Barring an appeal, the New Orleans Saints will be without linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the 2012 season. More than a handful of NFL players don't agree with the severity of the punishment, but the penalty wasn't a complete surprise.
When the NFL handed down player discipline for the team's pay-for-performance "bounty" scandal, we all knew Vilma would top the list. Remaining punishments loomed as a mystery until the very end, when Saints defensive end Will Smith and former teammates Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove were added to the list.
The NFL Players Association this week filed a grievance against the NFL challenging Commissioner Roger Goodell's powers in the Saints case. That grievance filed with the system arbitrator included further details on what triggered suspensions for Fujita (three games), Hargrove (eight games) and Smith (four games). Take a look:
â¢ On Smith: "As to Mr. Smith, the suspension letter alleged that 'the record establishes that you assisted Coach Williams in establishing and funding the program' and 'pledged significant sums during the 2009 playoffs toward the program pool for cart-offs and knockouts of the Saints' opposing players.' The letter concluded the Mr. Smith's 'active participation in the bounty program, role in its establishment and funding, and the offer of significant sums toward the program pool' constituted 'conduct detrimental.' "
â¢ On Browns linebacker Fujita (with the Saints from 2006 to 2009): "As to Mr. Fujita, the suspension letter stated that 'the record established that you pledged a significant amount of money to the pool during the 2009 NFL Playoffs.' The letter then purported to suspend Mr. Fujita 'pursuant to my authority under Article 46 of the (CBA) and your NFL Player Contract.' "
â¢ On Packers defensive end Hargrove (with the Saints from 2009 to 2010): "As to Mr. Hargrove, the suspension letter claimed that 'the record establishes that you actively participated in the program while a member of the Saints,' and purported to suspend Mr. Hargrove for conduct detrimental.' "