Surely, we have not heard the last of the NFL’s nightmare known as the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
But the league took another step to eventually putting the story to rest on Tuesday when Commissioner Roger Goodell reaffirmed suspensions handed out to four players in the case. The league announced the actions with little change to what had been done originally.
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma remains suspended for the entirety of the 2012 season but he will be able to keep his salary while on the physically unable to perform list. Vilma is alleged to have offered $10,000 to any teammate that could knock out Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in the NFC Championship Game.
Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita had his suspension reduced from three games to one. Defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove, currently a free agent, had his suspension reduced from eight to seven games. Will Smith’s four-game suspension did not change.
“For more than six months, the NFL has ignored the facts, abused the process outlined in our collective bargaining agreement and failed to produce evidence that the players intended to injure anyone, ever,” the NFLPA wrote in a release, according to NFL.com. “The only evidence that exists is the League’s gross violation of fair due process, transparency and impartiality during this process. Truth and fairness have been the casualties of the league’s refusal to admit that it might have made a mistake.
“We will review this decision thoroughly and review all options to protect our players’ rights with vigilance.”
An appeal overturned the original suspensions last month.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune