The NFL suspended 4 players for their roles in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty system, including linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the entire 2012 season. Sports scores
As well as Vilma, defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove (now with the Green Bay Packers) was postponed 8 games, defensive Will Smith 4 games and linebacker Scott Fujita (now with the Cleveland Browns) 3 games.
All 4 player suspensions will be appealed, according to NFL source related. “Get ready for massive multiple legal battle over this on several fronts.”
The NFL Players Association released a declaration claiming it still hasn’t received “any detailed or specific evidence from the league of these specific players’ inclusion in an alleged pay-to-injure plan.”
“We have made it clear that punishment without having proof is not fair. We have spoken with our players and their representatives and we will vigorously safeguard and pursue all choices on their behalf,” the NFLPA announced.
The players’ appeals will be heard by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
“No bounty plan can exist without active player participation,” Goodell announced in the league’s declaration announcing the penalties. “The proof obviously showed that the players being held accountable today eagerly and enthusiastically embraced the bounty plan. Players put the vast majority of the money into this plan and they share responsibility for playing by the rules and protecting each other within those rules.”
The suspended players, apart from Vilma, are able to play a role in their teams’ offseason and preseason activities. Vilma’s suspension starts straight away and will end after the Super Bowl.
The NFL cited categorical proof against the 4 players in its ruling:
The league declared Fujita pledged “a serious sum of money” to the Saints’ bounty program.
•Hargrove submitted a signed declaration to the NFL not only that the Saints’ bounty plan existed, but that he was an active participant in it. Additionally, the NFL expounded that Hargrove told one player on another team that previous Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was a target of the Saints’ bounty pool in the 2009 NFC Championship Game and that Hargrove obstructed the league’s investigation in 2010 when he wasn’t truthful with investigators.
•Smith, according to the NFL, helped previous Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams create and fund the bounty pool when he was a captain of the defense.
•Vilma, is also claimed to have helped Williams create and fund the program.
Also, the NFL announced Vilma promised $10,000 in cash to any Saints player who knocked previous Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner out of the 2009 divisional playoff game involving the teams and then repeated the pledge for Favre for the NFC title game.
Warner was among several former and current NFL players to react on social media to the NFL’s controlling.
The NFL also sent a note to its teams in which Goodell “re-emphasized that any plan of non-contract bonuses, however it is characterized, is a violation of league rules” and made public specific steps it anticipated players and coaches to finish to guarantee bounties are not practiced in the league.
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