NFL Reaffirms Bounty Suspensions – Will Smith Banned 4 Games
The NFL has reaffirmed the four player suspensions handed down in the off-season regarding the Saints bounty program and issued a letter to all four, shedding more light why the penalties were imposed.
Commissioner Roger Goodell is sticking with his original ruling of an full season suspension for Jonathon Vilma and four games for Will Smith, but has scaled back his punishment for ex-Saints Scott Fujita – now with the Browns – and Anthony Hargrove.
Fujita’s suspension was cut from three games to one, while Hargrove’s ban was cut from eight games to seven. Hargrove, who is not currently on an NFL roster has been given credit for the first five games of this season and will have to sit out two games if he signs with a team.
Goodell’s original ban was overturned by a collective bargaining appeals panel which left open the door for the commissioner to reinstate the penalties if there was proof of intent to injure.
The commissioner also issued letters to each player outlining discrepancies between what they had testified to, and what other players and coaches said.
The letter to Smith reads:
“At our meeting in September, you confirmed that you expressed approval of the program when it was first presented to you by Coach Williams. You also confirmed that you provided money to the program pool both at the beginning of the season and again during the playoffs. I understand that you deny that anyone intended to inflict injury on any opposing player. Even in the face of repeated appeals to ‘crank up the John Deere tractor and cart the guy off,’ you and others now claim that the objective was instead merely to ‘knock the wind out’ of your opponents, requiring them to leave the game for only a play or two. From the standpoint of player safety, fair competition, and the integrity of the game, the issues with which I am concerned today, this kind of after-the-fact explanation is little more than wordplay that, in my judgment as Commissioner, offers no basis on which to excuse conduct that does not belong in professional football. Such behavior is conduct detrimental without regard to the precise extent or duration of the disability intended.