New Orleans Saints Players Suspended In Bountygate Reinstated By Appeals Committee
A three-member appeals panel has overturned the player suspensions in the Saints bounty case. The panel overturned a ruling by NFL system arbiter Stephen Burbank that commissioner Rodger Goodell was within his powers under the collective bargaining agreement to suspended four players for their alleged roles in a pay to injure system.
The suspensions are voided immediately, however the commissioner can reconsider discipline if — and only if — there is evidence of intent to injure beyond just a performance pool.
The league issued a statement saying, “Consistent with the panel’s decision, Commissioner Goodell will, as directed, make an expedited determination of the discipline imposed for violating the league’s pay-for-performance/bounty rule. Until that determination is made, the four players are reinstated and eligible to play starting this weekend.”
The decision — which was made by a panel comprised of retired federal Judge Fern Smith of San Francisco, retired federal Judge Richard Howell of New York, and Georgetown professor James Oldham — clears Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and Saints defensive end Will Smith to play this weekend if their teams desire.
Vilma had been suspended for the season, Smith for four games and Fujita for three games. Defensive end Anthony Hargrove, an unsigned free agent, had been suspended for eight games.
Shortly after the decision, Vilma wrote on Twitter:
“King” Roger Goodell is NOT going take this laying down. Look for him to pull some more shenanigans in the coming weeks…SMH
Image via AP