A three-member appeals panel overturned the NFL’s suspension of four players for their role in the New Orleans’ Saints bounty scandal.
But just because the players are eligible to play in games on Kickoff Weekend doesn’t mean they will escape punishment from Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The suspensions of Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove, who isn’t currently with a team, were overturned because the panel ruled Goodell could not punish them for alleged salary-cap rule violations, according to NFL.com. The commissioner could tighten up his rulings and come back and hand out the same punishments for conduct detrimental to the game.
As it stands, Smith plans to play for the Saints in Sunday’s season opener against the Washington Redskins, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. It’s not known if Fujita will compete for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Vilma has a knee injury and his health isn’t believed to be resolved yet.
Goodell will not issue a new ruling before Sunday’s games but expectations are he will come back to the issue sooner rather than later. So, the bounty scandal is far from over at this point, but the players did score a victory.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune