The New Orleans Saints received a huge win today when the NFL appeals panel announced they have overturned the suspensions handed down to current and former Saints players Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Scott Fujita and Will Smith by commissioner Roger Goodell as part of the league’s punishment for the team’s alleged bounty system.
With the news, that means the formerly suspended players are now reinstated by the league and eligible to play in week one. The ball is now back in Goodell’s court and he will have to start from square one.
Here is a rundown from NFL.com’s Albert Breer of what the decision by the appeals panel means:
A nutshell explanation — NFLPA argued this should be regarded as a salary cap violation; NFL said it was under “conduct detrimental.” Pay-for-performance is salary cap, pay-to-injure is conduct detrimental. Cap penalties go to Burbank on appeal. Conduct goes to commish. Goodell does have the power simply go back, say “thanks appeals panel, I suspended them on pay-to-injure all along” and uphold suspensions. The important piece here is if Goodell does suspended the four Saints again, this time, is HAS to be specifically for pay-to-injure.
The NFL announced it will respect the decision from the appeals panel.
“Consistent with the panel’s decision, Commissioner Goodell will, as directed, make an expedited determination of the discipline imposed for violating the league’s pay-for-performance/bounty rule,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. “Until that determination is made, the four players are reinstated and eligible to play starting this weekend.”
As for the suspended players, they have to be happy to hear that someone finally heard what they have been trying to say and listened with an open ear. There was no proof that the players received cash for injuring people and the decision by the appeals panel rights the wrong that was previously made by the commissioner.
As expected, the players are happy.
We will now have to wait and see which, if any, of the players will play in week one. It is believed that Vilma could start the season on the PUP list.