Saints players get ban overturned
Players initially suspended in May following the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal have had their bans overturned. Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Will Smith and Anthony Hargrove are back in the game following suspensions resulting from the NFL’s findings that they had leadership roles in a program that gave players cash rewards for knocking opponents out games from 2009 to 2011.
Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who was in charge of the second round of appeals, overturned their suspensions.
“Unlike Saints’ broad organizational misconduct, player appeals involve sharply focused issues of alleged individual player misconduct in several different aspects,” Tagliabue said in a statement released by the league. “My affirmation of Commissioner Goodell’s findings could certainly justify the issuance of fines. However, this entire case has been contaminated by the coaches and others in the Saints’ organization.”
The Saints bounty scandal resulted a season-long ban for Saints head coach Sean Payton and an indefinite suspension for former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
While his suspension was overturned, Vilma already filed a defamation lawsuit against Goodell and intends to continue with it, according to NFL.com.
“Jonathan intends to continue to pursue the defamation lawsuit in order to reclaim his reputation,” his attorney, Peter Ginsberg, said. “We’re pleased that the unjust penalties have been overturned, but this is only one piece in remedying the situation for Jonathan.”
While some players can now see an end to the scandal, it’s one that is bound to haunt the Saints for seasons to come.