By Danny Cox
The bounty gate scandal for the New Orleans Saints has taken so many twists and turns over the course of this year, but the revelations on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 may have been the strangest.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that he reduced the bounty-related suspensions of two Saints players while leaving those of two others in place. The weird thing here is that he reduced the punishments of the former Saints, and not those of the current Saints.
Linebacker Scott Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns, had his three-game suspension reduced to one game. Defensive end Anthony Hargrove, without a current team, saw one game cut off of his eight-game suspension.
The year-long suspension of linebacker Jonathan Vilma and four-game suspension for defensive end Will Smith are staying exactly as they are.
Vilma is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, and isn’t eligible to play this year. He can keep any money paid to him for his six weeks on the PUP list. Smith has been healthy and playing so far for the Saints this season.
All four players still have 72 hours to begin an appeals process if that is what they choose to do. It appears as if – as with most appeals – the players would be able to play until the appeals process is completed.
An appeals board of three overturned the original suspensions handed down by Goodell.
The NFL Players Association released a statement regarding the decisions of the NFL commissioner.
“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 statement said. “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.”
The NFLPA continued on saying that they are going to review everything thoroughly in order to determine if an appeal is called for here. They want to do whatever is best for their players’ rights.
Lawsuits filed by the players are still in place in a federal court in New Orleans. Vilma is the only players that filed for defamation. All four of them are suing over the fact that they claim that Goodell violated labor law by failing to act as impartial arbitrator.
Goodell is the person that appoints the person who will hear the appeals of the players. Last time he chose himself, but is not yet known who will hear the second round of appeals. That is, if they even happen.
By now, this news has spread to every single football fan and especially around the city of New Orleans.
At this point, conspiracy theories are already being thrown around and even more hatred has found its way from the “Crescent City” and up to Roger Goodell. Not that he was liked at all by the black and gold fans anyway.
Even though all of the data collected by the NFL’s investigation has been revealed to the public, it does seem kind of strange that the current Saints have their suspensions still in place, but the former Saints do not. One has to wonder what exactly the commissioner has on Vilma and Smith, but not on Fujita and Hargrove.
Mind you, they were all a part of the same alleged bounty system. They all are still accused of doing wrong. They all received punishments that seemingly were necessary for the parts they allegedly took part of in the bounty system.
The weird thing is that one would believe punishments were handed out according to who was involved more in the system or did more horrible acts. That, in turn, would be Vilma and Hargrove. Yet, Hargrove had his suspension reduced and Smith did not.
The question remains for Mr. Goodell…why the former Saints and not the current Saints?
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.