Defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove (who is now with the Green Bay Packers) was suspended 8 games, defensive end Will Smith was suspended 4 games, and linebacker Scott Fujita (who is now with the Cleveland Browns) was suspended 3 three games.
All of today’s suspensions are without pay. The players can appeal the decision within three days. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would be the one to hear their appeals.
“No bounty program can exist without active player participation,” Goodell said in a prepared statement from the NFL. “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 four suspended players will be allowed to participate in their teams’ offseason and preseason activities.
The Saints looked like they were preparing for such an announcement, as they had been shoring up their linebacker corps via free agency. Linebackers Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne were among the Saints’ offseason signings.
An investigation done by the league revealed that, from 2009 – 2011, New Orleans coaches and players initiated a bounty program that that rewarded players via improper cash payouts for damaging hits aimed at knocking opposing players out of NFL games. The league now says that as many as 27 Saints participated in the bounty program.
Saints coach Sean Payton had already been suspended for the entire 2012 season and the team was fined $500,000. Saints former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had previously been suspended indefinitely, New Orleans GM Mickey Loomis begins an 8-game suspension following the preseason, and interim coach Joe Vitt starts serving his 6-game ban at the same time.
Payton’s suspension began April 16 and runs through the Super Bowl, which – coincidentally- will be held in New Orleans.
- Jonathan Vilma Reportedly Expects Multi-Game Suspension for Saints Bounty (bleacherreport.com)
- Jonathan Vilma expects two to eight game suspension (profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)