Saints ‘Bounty’ Players Suspension Lifted – For Now
The story that has consumed the entire NFL off-season season, Bounty Gate, has just been turned upside down. The four Saints players that were suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell as part of a pay for pain bounty have been reinstated by the league today after a panel overturned the suspensions.
New Orleans Saints' Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Cleveland Brown Scot Fujita and free agent Anthony Hargrove have each had their "Bounty Gate" suspensions overturned by a panel today in a stunning turn of events.
Each player was allegedly involved in the Saints Bounty program which offered cash in exchange for big hits on opposing teams. Example, Vilma supposedly offered $10,000 to whomever knocked out QB Kurt Warner out of a playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals in the 2009 playoffs. NFL comissioner, Roger Goodell, handed out serious suspensions to each player as well as the Saints coaching staff. Vilma was suspended for the year along with head coach, Sean Payton. Today, a panel has overturned those suspensions and each player is eligible to take the field on Sunday. However, their victory could be short lived.
Hank Gola of The NY Daily News states "The ruling does not mean that the suspensions have been vacated, just that Goodell did not have the authority to hear the players' appeals after meting out the punishment." From what it seems, the commissioner cannot suspend the players for the actual Bounty Gate, but he can suspend each for detrimental conduct. That ruling is expected to come in the next few weeks but will not occur this weekend. It's very possible that all of the suspended players hit the field tomorrow.
What do you think the fate of the Bounty Gate players will be now? Will the lift last just this week and we're back to square one by week two or will we see the likes of Vilma all season?