BountyGate Player Discipline Announced

New Orleans Saints Middle Linebacker Jonathan Vilma will miss the entire 2012 NFL Season for his role in the ‘Pay-For-Pain’ Scandal

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Comes Down Hard On The Players Involved In BountyGate – Today, the NFL announced the penalties for the players involved in the New Orleans Saints Bounty Investigation. Along with the suspensions, the League also listed the evidence they had gathered against those who were punished:

  • Linebacker Jonathan Vilma of the Saints is suspended without pay for the 2012 NFL season, effective immediately per league policy for season-long suspensions. The investigation concluded that while a captain of the defensive unit Vilma assisted Coach Williams in establishing and funding the program. Multiple independent sources also confirmed that Vilma offered a specific bounty –$10,000 in cash – to any player who knocked Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner out of the 2009 Divisional Playoff Game and later pledged the same amount to anyone who knocked Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship Game the following week (played onJanuary 24, 2010). Vilma is eligible to be reinstated after the Super Bowl in 2013.
  • Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (now with the Green Bay Packers) is suspended without pay for the first eight games of the 2012 regular season. Hargrove actively participated in the program while a member of the Saints. Hargrove submitted a signed declaration to the league that established not only the existence of the program at the Saints, but also that he knew about and participated in it. The evidence showed that Hargrove told at least one player on another team that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was a target of a large bounty during the NFC Championship Game in January of 2010. Hargrove also actively obstructed the league’s 2010 investigation into the program by being untruthful to investigators.
  • Will Smith of the Saints is suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2012 regular season. Smith, a defensive end, assisted Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in establishing and funding the program during a period in which he was a captain and leader of the defensive unit. Multiple independent sources also confirmed that Smith pledged significant sums to the program pool for “cart-offs” and “knockouts” of opposing players.
  • Scott Fujita (now with the Cleveland Browns) is suspended without pay for the first three games of the 2012 regular season. The record established that Fujita, a linebacker, pledged a significant amount of money to the prohibited pay-for-performance/bounty pool during the 2009 NFL Playoffs when he played for the Saints. The pool to which he pledged paid large cash rewards for “cart-offs”and “knockouts,” plays during which an opposing player was injured.
The NFL’s press release went on to state that, “The evidence supporting today’s disciplinary decisions is based on extensive documentation and interviews with multiple sources. The information was developed by NFL Security, working with independent forensic analysts, and the disciplinary decisions are each based on evidence that has been independently corroborated by multiple sources. The facts supporting the discipline issued today are largely the same as the facts thatCommissioner Goodell relied upon in March in assessing discipline on the club and several non-player employees. Those facts have been part of the public record for two months and have not been disputed by the team or the individuals involved.”
All players punished have the right to appeal within the next 3 days. You should safely assume that they have all obtained legal council and will not accept this punitive punishment without a fight. On the other hand, all appeals will be heard by the same person who issued the punishment – Commissioner Roger Goodell. The deck is stacked against them.
In all fairness, both the New Orleans Saints organization and their fans should be relieved. The original bounty report, released on March 2nd stated that “22-27 players” participated in the program and they all were potentially facing punishment. The fact that only 4 players were suspended should be seen as a small victory for a franchise that has a black cloud hanging over it for the 2012 Season.

One thought on “BountyGate Player Discipline Announced

  1. Pingback: Kurt Warner: I Don’t Want My Kids to Play Football «

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