NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was expected to levy punishments on Wednesday against the players involved in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal and that's what he did, announcing suspensions for several players.
According to the NFL's release, Jonathan Vilma is suspended for the entire season, Anthony Hargove is suspended for eight games, Will Smith for four games and Scott Fujita for three games.
The suspensions are without pay and considered "conduct detrimental" to the league.
Vilma was identified in the league's investigation as offering up a $10,000 reward for knocking Brett Favre out of the 2010 NFC Championship game and doing the same to Kurt Warner a week before. The league's statement said that Vilma, a captain of the defense, "assisted Coach Williams in establishing and funding" the bounty program.
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma of the Saints is suspended without pay for the 2012 NFL season, effective immediately per league policy for season-long suspensions. The investigation concluded that while a captain of the defensive unit Vilma assisted Coach Williams in establishing and funding the program. Multiple independent sources also confirmed that Vilma offered a specific bounty --$10,000 in cash - to any player who knocked Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner out of the 2009 Divisional Playoff Game and later pledged the same amount to anyone who knocked Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship Game the following week (played on January 24, 2010). Vilma is eligible to be reinstated after the Super Bowl in 2013.
Smith was "featured prominently" in the league's investigation and contributed "significant sums" to the program.
Will Smith of the Saints is suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2012 regular season. Smith, a defensive end, assisted Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in establishing and funding the program during a period in which he was a captain and leader of the defensive unit. Multiple independent sources also confirmed that Smith pledged significant sums to the program pool for "cart-offs" and "knockouts" of opposing players.
Hargove, who has since signed with the Green Bay Packers, admitted to the league that he knew about and participated in the bounty program.
Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (now with the Green Bay Packers) is suspended without pay for the first eight games of the 2012 regular season. Hargrove actively participated in the program while a member of the Saints. Hargrove submitted a signed declaration to the league that established not only the existence of the program at the Saints, but also that he knew about and participated in it. The evidence showed that Hargrove told at least one player on another team that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was a target of a large bounty during the NFC Championship Game in January of 2010. Hargrove also actively obstructed the league's 2010 investigation into the program by being untruthful to investigators.
Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns, is a member of the NFLPA's executive board and pledged a "significant amount of money" to the program.
Scott Fujita (now with the Cleveland Browns) is suspended without pay for the first three games of the 2012 regular season. The record established that Fujita, a linebacker, pledged a significant amount of money to the prohibited pay-for-performance/bounty pool during the 2009 NFL Playoffs when he played for the Saints. The pool to which he pledged paid large cash rewards for "cart-offs" and "knockouts," plays during which an opposing player was injured.
The argument from the players perspective is that they were simply doing what they were told from the coaching staff. That argument is undermined slightly from the league's findings that Vilma and other players helped establish and maintain the program.