NFL Reaffirms 4 Players' Suspensions in Bounty Scandal

But reduced penalties for 2 Saints players

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Oct 9, 2012 5:27 PM CDT

(Newser) – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspensions of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith today for their role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal and reduced penalties for Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove. Vilma will sit out the entire season and Smith's punishment stands at four games. Hargrove, a free agent defensive lineman, will face a two-game suspension once he signs with a team. He originally was hit with eight games, but that was reduced to seven with five games already served. Fujita, who plays for Cleveland, will now miss only one game instead of three.

Only Smith and Fujita have played this season because an appeal panel vacated the original suspensions and informed Goodell that he needed to clarify the reasons for the punishment. Vilma has been recovering from offseason knee surgery and hopes to return in two weeks. The players can further delay their suspensions by appealing again through their labor contract. They could also ask a federal judge in New Orleans to revisit their earlier request for an injunction blocking the suspensions. "In my recent meetings with the players and their counsel," Goodell wrote, "the players confirmed that the program offered cash rewards for `cart-offs,' that players were encouraged to `crank up the John Deere tractor' and have their opponents carted off the field, and that rewards were offered and paid for plays that resulted in opposing players having to leave the field."

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma arrives at NFL headquarters to meet with Roger Goodell about his suspension, Monday, Sep. 17, 2012, in New York.   (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
From left are Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith, and Scott Fujita.   (AP Photo/File)
New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith (91) shakes hands with Jonathan Vilma at the Superdome in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012.   (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
This Dec. 19, 2009 file photo shows New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith on the bench during an NFL game in New Orleans.   (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)
This Aug. 2, 2010 file photo shows NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at the New Orleans Saints' training facility in Metairie, La.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
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