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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

NFL Suspends Vilma and Three Other Players Over Saints' Bounty Program

Posted by on Wed, May 2, 2012 at 11:15 AM

New Orleans Saints fans thought they had it bad enough after the team lost its head coach, general manager, and two second round draft choices as punishment for a bounty system in which players earned cash bonuses for injuring members of the opposing team. Well today another shoe dropped, with the NFL suspending four current and past players for their role in the scandal, including star linebacker Jonathan Vilma—arguably the Saints' defensive leader—who will be suspended without pay for the entire 2012 season.

Vilma allegedly offered $10,000 of his own money to any teammate who knocked Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out their 2009 playoff game. The Saints will also lose starting defensive end Will Smith for four games.

For those who don't follow professional football, Vilma's punishment is huge. The league doesn't hand out one-year suspensions to top-tier players willy-nilly. Faced with a growing number of lawsuits alleging the league has not done enough to protect players from injuries—particularly concussions— NFL commissioner Roger Goodell seems determined to prove that he's taking this issue seriously.

In addition to Vilma and Smith, the NFL suspended defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove (now with the Green Bay Packers) for eight games, and linebacker Scott Fujita (now with the Cleveland Browns) for three. Hargrove did in fact knock Favre out of that 2009 playoff game, a hit for which he was fined at the time.


Comments (15) RSS

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Which Saint?
Posted by maddogm13 on May 2, 2012 at 11:22 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 2
Suspending any coach or player that had anything to do with this indefinitely is completely appropriate if you ask me. What this team did is the worst possible offense in sports: specifically trying to injure other players.

The NFL has enough image and injury problems without these people in it, and I wish they were disallowed from ever entering the NFL again.

I am aware that this is not just a Saint's issue, but we only have evidence that they engaged in this kind of program. Anyone caught doing the same should face an identical punishment. Banned forever.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on May 2, 2012 at 11:40 AM · Report this
and on the concussion front, my guess is we'll hear of chronic brain injuries in regards to this:…

RIP Junior. I always liked him as a player and he seemed like a decent guy.
Posted by Frank Rizzo on May 2, 2012 at 11:41 AM · Report this
Betsy Ross 4
What about the officials? During the 2009 Saints/Vikings playoff game, the officials several times failed to penalize late hits and unnecessary roughness inflicted by the Saints. The bounty program is inexcusable, but I think the Saints felt like they had the green light from the officials to injure Brett Favre.
Posted by Betsy Ross on May 2, 2012 at 11:44 AM · Report this
seatackled 5
Good, but shit, I was kind of a fan of Fujita because of his personal story.
Posted by seatackled on May 2, 2012 at 11:44 AM · Report this
@3 - Yep, that ought to spread a few shockwaves on the TBI front.
Posted by longball on May 2, 2012 at 11:52 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 7
@4: Most football penalties are highly subjective, so it could just be that your personal analysis of a late hit and unnecessary roughness was not the same as the official's.

Or they honestly just did not see it. The difference is, failure to see a penalty or making a wrong call is a mistake, not the demonstrable aim of the officials.

Now if you could prove the officials did not make those calls in order to support certain players getting injured, then you would have an equivalancy.

The Saint's coaching staff purposefully sent their players out to injure other players. Huge difference.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on May 2, 2012 at 11:55 AM · Report this
McGee 8
@3 You are absolutely correct. Book it.
Posted by McGee on May 2, 2012 at 12:17 PM · Report this
Sir Vic 9
@3 That's just horrible news. Seau was a major public figure in San Diego. Hard to stay classy in the face of such a shock.

The year-long suspension for Vilma is pretty severe, but I'm still waiting on the IRS opinion of these off-the-books payments. They have a track record of taking exception to that kind of thing.
Posted by Sir Vic on May 2, 2012 at 12:42 PM · Report this
Betsy Ross 10
@7 Green light was on. Deny it if you must.
Posted by Betsy Ross on May 2, 2012 at 12:42 PM · Report this
laterite 11
@3: Holy shit, that's crazy!
Posted by laterite on May 2, 2012 at 1:08 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 12
I'm with @2 and @4.

Lifetime bans for the management, players and refs that enabled it.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on May 2, 2012 at 1:10 PM · Report this
Favre? They had a hit on him? Boy, they better watch their backs in Green Bay next time they play.

Win on your own merits because otherwise it's just WWF.
Posted by westello on May 2, 2012 at 1:28 PM · Report this
venomlash 14
Am I the only one tickled pink that there is a football player named Will Smith? Not that I'm surprised or anything...
Posted by venomlash on May 2, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
Vilma loses a year's pay, but more than makes up for it as spokesmodel for a leading brand of paper towels (the quicker wiper-outer).
Posted by RonK, Seattle on May 2, 2012 at 2:10 PM · Report this

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