NFL Lifts Suspensions in Saints Bounty Scandal

All 4 players' suspensions overturned

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Dec 11, 2012 2:04 PM CST

(Newser) – Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has overturned the suspensions of four current and former New Orleans Saints players in the league's bounty investigation of the club. Tagliabue, however, found that three of the players engaged in conduct detrimental to the league. He said they participated in a performance pool that rewarded key plays—including hard tackles—that could merit fines. But he stressed that the team's coaches were very much involved. Tagliabue was appointed by his successor, Commissioner Roger Goodell, to handle a second round of player appeals to the league in connection with the Saints' cash-for-hits program run by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from 2009-2011.

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma had been given a full-season suspension, while defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita, and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove each received shorter suspensions. Fujita was the only player cleared of conduct detrimental to the league by Tagliabue. None of the players sat out any games because of suspensions. They have been allowed to play while appeals are pending, though Fujita is on injured reserve and Hargrove is not with a team.

In this Nov. 30, 2012, file photo, New Orleans Saints football defensive end Will Smith, left, and linebacker Jonathan Vilma arrive at an attorney's office in Washington, for a hearing on their appeals.
In this Nov. 30, 2012, file photo, New Orleans Saints football defensive end Will Smith, left, and linebacker Jonathan Vilma arrive at an attorney's office in Washington, for a hearing on their appeals.   (Cliff Owen)
This Oct. 21, 2012 file photo shows New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma.
This Oct. 21, 2012 file photo shows New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma.   (AP Photo/ Phelan Ebenhack, File)
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