4 Players Suspended In Saints Bounty Scandal! [VIDEO]
As if it wasn't bad enough, now four players have been suspended for several games and one in particular for the ENTIRE SEASON!
The NFL announced last Wednesday of last week that four current and former Saints players are being suspended for portions of the 2012 season. Everyone has been bracing for the worst. That's exactly what happened.
First, we have to do without the leadership of our head coach Sean Patton and now this. The harshest penalty was handed down to Saints middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, whom is banned for the entire 2012 campaign. Ironically, his suspension begins immediately. The breakdown on suspensions for the others is as follows:
Saints defensive end Will Smith received a four-games and ex-Saints — currant Green Bay defensive end Anthony Hargrove (eight games) and linebacker Scott Fujita (three) — also were sanctioned. However, they will be allowed to remain working with their teams until the start of the regular season. In addition, to the initial punishments of Saints head coach Sean Payton (one season), general manager Mickey Loomis (eight games) and assistant head coach Joe Vitt (six games) for not doing enough to stop the bounty system after repeated NFL warnings. Finally, the Saints also were fined $500,000 and stripped of 2012 and 2013 second-round draft choices.
According to Fox Sports, all of them intend to appeal the suspensions, but the only have 3 days to do so. The NFL Players Association is expected to try and get the suspensions overturned. The NFLPA issued this statement on the matter saying, "After seeing the NFL's decision letters, the NFLPA has still not received any detailed or specific evidence from the league of these specific players' involvement in an alleged pay-to-injure program. We have made it clear that punishment without evidence is not fair. We have spoken with our players and their representatives and we will vigorously protect and pursue all options on their behalf."
It's obvious that the NFL is making an example out of the Saints. At press time, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said this of the punishment, “It is the obligation of everyone, including the players on the field, to ensure that rules designed to promote player safety, fair play, and the integrity of the game are adhered to and effectively and consistently enforced. Respect for the men that play the game starts with the way players conduct themselves with each other on the field.”
So why is Vilma barring the worst of the punishment? During the Bounty investigation, the NFL uncovered that he offered a $10,000 reward for any Saints player who knocked out Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner or Minnesota's Brett Favre in two playoff games in 2009. The league also claims that he helped fund and establish the bounty system with ex-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who as you all know was suspended indefinitely in March.
Smith was accused of doing the same thing as a Saints defensive captain. So, I'm kinda confused as to why he only got 4 games and Vilma got a year. As far as Fujita’s suspension, it stems from money he allegedly contributed into the bounty pool. Fujita also was the Saints’ NFLPA representative, so that wasn't a good look at all.
Hargrove’s punishment is more severe because he lied to the NFL investigators about the existence of the program in 2010 and even signed a declaration denying the existence of the bounty system. Were he messed up according to the NFL, is that he told at least one other player from another team that there was a bounty on Favre during the NFC Championship Game.
By the way their not the only players believed to have been involved. Though, their participation varied to they aren’t facing suspension. Commissioner Goodell said his player discipline was focused on players who:
Held leadership positions, contributed a particularly large sum of money toward the program, contributed to a bounty on an opposing player, demonstrated a clear intent to participate in a program and sought rewards for doing so and finally obstructed the 2010 investigation.
Goodell said, “No bounty program can exist without active player participation. The evidence clearly showed that the players being held accountable today willingly and enthusiastically embraced the bounty program. Players put the vast majority of the money into this program and they share responsibility for playing by the rules and protecting each other within those rules.”
The NFL has said it may consider lessening the draft-pick penalty depending on whether the Saints comply with league rules and how the team fares in 2012.
The Saints have named Joe Vitt as interim coach, despite the top assistant's six-game suspension for his role in the club's bounty system. However the team has not decided who will handle the coaching duties when Vitt serves his suspension at the start of the regular season.
By the way, just in case someone hasn't got the message the NFL sent a memo out to all 32 franchises reiterating that any program involving non-contract bonuses violates league rules and that includes higher-paid veterans contributing to a fund which rewards special-teams players for key tackles and forced turnovers.
That being said, all NFL teams will be required to review these rules with coaches and player before the start of the regular season. The league will also be developing programs to teach safe and fair play.