Skip to main content

NFL players suspended over bounty program eligible to play

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:59 PM EDT, Sun September 9, 2012
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will review the suspensions of four players disciplined for involvement in the New Orleans Saints
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will review the suspensions of four players disciplined for involvement in the New Orleans Saints "bounty" program.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Vilma tweeted: "Victory is mine!!!! -stewie griffin."
  • They will be allowed to play while the reviews are under way
  • Players were offered a bounty to knock out quarterbacks, the league says
  • Vilma sued the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell

(CNN) -- Four NFL players will be eligible to play this weekend despite having been suspended for their involvement in the New Orleans Saints' controversial "bounty" program, the league said Friday.

Their suspensions are to be reviewed by Commissioner Roger Goodell, according to the NFL. The move came shortly after a ruling by a three-member 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," said league spokesman Greg Aiello.

"Until that determination is made, the four players are reinstated and eligible to play starting this weekend."

NFLPA sues over bounty suspensions
Barber on canceled NFL bounty hearings
NFLPA chief: Show us bounty evidence
Do audio tapes prove NFL bounty scandal?

In March, the league suspended four current and former Saints players -- Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith -- concluding that they had leadership roles in the pay-for-injury program.

"I can't wait to see Jonathan on the field," said Vilma's attorney, Peter Ginsberg. "He's fought long and hard for a measure of justice."

Vilma tweeted: "Victory is mine!!!! -stewie griffin." Stewie Griffin is the name of a child character in the animated TV show "Family Guy" for whom "victory is mine" is a catchphrase.

Smith also tweeted Friday, saying, "Thank you to everyone involved in the process of this solution. And everyone who supported us through this whole ordeal."

Fujita said he was "overwhelmed with all the support."

"Thank you so much everyone," he tweeted. "Can't tell you how much it means to me."

The league also suspended three coaches and the Saints' general manager this year. The panel's ruling does not affect them.

Vilma, a defensive captain, helped the team's defensive coordinator establish and fund the program, the league said in a news release.

"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," the league concluded after a months-long internal investigation.

The NFL said its investigation found that the Saints had an "active bounty program" during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons. During this time, players were purportedly offered payments if they managed to hurt opposing players and knock them out of a game.

Vilma then sued the NFL and Goodell, saying his reputation and professional career were being "irreparably harmed."

NFL commissioner Goodell announces anti-bounty steps

NFL Week 1: The best photos

SI: NFL Week 1 storylines

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT