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As players start to fight, Saints stay silent

As the NFL Players Association and players suspended because of the New Orleans Saints' "bounty" scandal start to fight back against their punishments, it's worth noting the Saints' response to the discipline. Or lack of response.

The Saints' organizational silence in the wake of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith's suspensions has been deafening. Remember: The Saints spoke up aggressively to deny allegations when they were accused of illegally listening to opposing coaches. This time, the Saints' official website has not even acknowledged the player punishments from the league.

"The players would be wise to take the lead of the Saints' coaches and administrators before them," Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes. "Considering the evidence against them, they understood the frivolity of a legal battle and took their medicine."

Saints coach Sean Payton appealed his suspension, but he didn't try to take it to court. The players are going to do their best to prolong the process.

In the meantime, the Saints are trying not to get caught in the middle. They prepared well for this moment. They gave Vilma more upfront money in his contract in March, which now looks like a rather nice pre-suspension gift.

Vilma and Will Smith came out vociferously after their suspension, proclaiming their innocence. The players' silence before the suspensions was odd and telling. If the Saints organization believed their players were innocent, it wouldn't be so quiet about it now.

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