Goodell reaffirms player suspensions in bounty case
New York, NY (Sports Network) - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reaffirmed the discipline for four players in the New Orleans Saints' bounty case Tuesday, but did adjust certain aspects after meeting with the players individually.
"The discipline being imposed today is entirely based on my finding that the players engaged in conduct detrimental and in no way based on any issue of undisclosed payments in violation of the salary cap," Goodell said in a statement on Tuesday. "The four disciplined players either were involved in specific bounties on an opposing player, contributed substantially to the bounty program, engaged in payments that violated league rules or were untruthful when the program was initially investigated."
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma remains suspended for the season but will retain the salary he received while on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita had his suspension reduced from three games to one, while free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove saw his ban reduced one game from eight to seven.
If Hargrove is signed by a team, he will only serve a two-game suspension after receiving credit for the five games he already has missed this season.
Saints defensive end Will Smith's four-game suspension was upheld.
"For more than six months, the NFL has ignored the facts, abused the process outlined in our collective bargaining agreement and failed to produce evidence that the players intended to injure anyone, ever," the NFLPA wrote in a release. "The only evidence that exists is the league's gross violation of fair due process, transparency and impartiality during this process. Truth and fairness have been the casualties of the league's refusal to admit that it might have made a mistake. We will review this decision thoroughly and review all options to protect our players' rights with vigilance."
All four players had their suspensions overturned last month when the NFLPA filed an appeal on their behalf, making them eligible for play this season.
Fujita has appeared in three games for the Browns, while Smith has appeared in all five games for the Saints. Vilma hasn't played in a game this season because of a knee injury.
10/09 18:19:03 ET