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."