Today the NFL handed down its long anticipated punishments of Saints players involved in “bountygate.” As was widely believed, Jonathan Vilma was the player hit heaviest, getting a one year suspension. Here’s exactly how the suspensions break down.
- LB Jonathan Vilma is suspended for 2012 NFL season, effective immediately.
- LB Scott Fujita (now with the Browns) is suspended without pay for the first 3 games of the 2012 season.
- DE Anthony Hargrove (now with the Packers) is suspended without pay for the first 8 games of the 2012 season.
- DE Will Smith is suspended without pay for the first 4 games of the 2012 season.
It’s still unclear whether the players will appeal their punishments, but they have only three days to do so.
The most peculiar thing about the suspensions handed down today was the timing. This round of suspensions was expected well before the draft, and the timing hurts the teams those players are now part of. It’s possible that Roger Goodell didn’t want the Browns, Packers, and especially the Saints to know those players’ fates before the draft. Maybe there’s some other reasons for the delay, but it certainly hasn’t been made clear yet. That’s just my speculation though.
The next major question to be answered in the “bountygate” saga is whether the NFLPA will go to bat for the suspended players, or will the NFLPA shy away from any appeals that could come in the next 3 days. I would expect Vilma and Hargrove to appeal their suspensions, although considering Roger Goodell’s track record with disciplinary action, I wouldn’t be too hopeful if I was one of those players. As for the NFLPA, it’s probably wiser for them to just stay away from any appeals that may follow these suspensions.