The fallout from the Bounty Scandal continued today as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that four players were to receive full or part suspensions for the upcoming 2012 season.
Saints Middle Linebacker Jonathan Vima, former first round pick of the N.Y. Jets, received the longest supension of all the other three players; a one year ban for the entire season. Ex-N.O. Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove, now with the Green Bay Packers, recieved an eight game suspension; Another ex-Saint linebacker Scott Fujita will miss three games. Finally, Saints defensive end Will Smith was hit with a four game suspension.
#51 Middle Linebacker has been banned for the entire 2012 season for his part in the Bounty scandal. Photo: AP Photo/Seth Perlman
In our post written when the news of Bounty Gate first was uncovered, I said that Goodell would and should come down hard on all those involded and he exceeded my greatest expectations with his mandates.
Of all the players who had an active role in the scandal, it was clear that Vilma, the most involved of the four, would receive the stiffest punishment. Remember that the NFL discovered that it was Vilma who offered that $10,000 reward for any Saints player who would successfully take out then Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner as well as Vikings quarterback Brett Favre (in two 2009 playoff games).
It was Vilma, or so the league has ‘claimed’, that funded and helped set up the pay for play system along with DC Gregg Williams. That would explain why the commissioner came down so heavy on him. I strongly disagreed with what Vilma was reported to have done months ago and have not waivered from that stance. This to me has no place in the game of football. And for those who would say that “this is done ALL the time in the NFL, it’s amazing how we have never heard of anyone else doing what Vilma did.
So clearly, the next step is for the players who were singled out by Goodell to run to the shirttails of the NFL Players Association in order to prepare for some sort of fight in order to gain relief from the harsh punishmnets. I’m not sure how successful they will be as my intuition tells me that Commissioner Goodell did not hand down these suspensions/edicts without a ton of evidence first.
This is what the Commissioner had to say earlier on Wednesday: “No bounty program can exist without active player participation,” Goodell said. “The evidence clearly showed that the players being held accountable today willingly and enthusiastically embraced the bounty program. Players put the vast majority of the money into this program and they share responsibility for playing by the rules and protecting each other within those rules.” Pretty much sums up what only can be referred to as a form of ‘organized crime’.
“No bounty program can exist without active player participation,” Goodell said on Wednesday. AP Photo/David Phillipy
You have to admit he took his time before rendering these decisions and my guess is that it was to conduct interviews and analyze what he’s been told throughout his long investigation. Nothing would draw such negative publicity upon himself and the league if it was dicovered that these four players were innocent of what they’re accused of doing.
DC Gregg Williams who has been suspended indefinitley has stated publicly that he has no intention of appealing. If that doesn’t suggest a strong sign of guilt then I don’t know what does. I know if I believe that I’m innocent of crimes against me, I’m appealing within every ounce of my being.
With the four players being called out today by Goodell, it has put to rest the ‘punishment’ phase of the worst scandal to hit the NFL in it’s existence. In an effort to prevent any future such practices from reoccuring, a memo was sent to all 32 franchises Wednesday reemphasizing that any program involving non-contract bonuses violates league rules like higher-paid veterans contributing to a fund rewarding special-teams players for key tackles and forced turnovers.
Lastly, as I suggested months ago, I expect to hear about civil suits being initiated by many of those who directly and indirectly were affected by the this scandal of ‘Pay for Play’, ‘Cart-Offs’, and ‘Knock-Outs’; words that should never be associated with football or any sport for that matter. Those cases and subsequent litigation will continue for years to come , and although Bounty Gate is over, it will be a long time before it’s fotgotten…