Suspensions for Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma were handed down in the spring following the league's investigation of the bounty program in New Orleans. In September, an appeals panel associated with the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement overturned the suspensions.
The issue went back to the NFL commissioner for further consideration and to make sure that the suspensions were handed out on the basis of player conduct rather than accepting payments. Commissioner Roger Goodell has complete jurisdiction over player conduct under the terms of the CBA.
The NFL had sworn affidavits from former Saints officials, including former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, that pinned the players to the actions cited by the NFL. Players were shown that evidence in meetings with Goodell following the CBA panel's decision.
Vilma was suspended for an entire season, Hargrove for eight games, Smith for four and Fujita for three.
Vilma and the others can appeal the latest suspension. They can also take additional legal action pending the outcome of any appeal, meaning that this is not likely to be the last time the Saints bounty scandal appears in the news.
Update: And maybe not...
Per source: Saints bounty punishment announcement coming soon. Possible some may have been reduced. Stand by, chumps.— mike freeman (@realfreemancbs) October 9, 2012
The difference, suggests Albert Breer of the NFL Network, could come down to a matter of games the players have already missed.
Good guess ... RT @profootballtalk: Our guess on re-issued bounty discipline?Vilma and Hargrove will get credit for games missed in 2012.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 9, 2012
To bridge the gap ... Vilma/Hargrove would likely see "time served" given as penalties being unchanged. NFL would see it as a concession.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 9, 2012
After drawn out, often ugly, sparring between both sides, some had hoped for a compromise in the wake of the CBA panel ruling.
More details expected soon.