Commissioner of the National Football League (NFL), Roger Goodell, reaffirmed the suspensions on Tuesday that it would suspend four players—Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita—involved in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty programme.
The reaffirmation came a month after the NFL postponed the suspensions after the players appealed.
Suspensions of former Saint and current Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent Anthony Hargrove have been cut down.
Fujita’s suspension was reduced from three games to one and Hargrove’s suspension from eight games to seven.
But the suspensions for Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (the rest of the season) and defensive end Will Smith (four games) are unchanged.
“In letters to each player and a memorandum to the clubs, Commissioner Goodell clarified that his decision was based entirely on his finding that the bounty program represented conduct detrimental to the league and professional football,” the NFL said Tuesday.
“The Saints’ bounty program operated over a three-year period and offered incentives to players for plays including ‘cart-offs’ and ‘knock-outs,’ which were plays that caused injuries to opponents.”
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) said it would consider its options after looking closely at the NFL’s punishments.
It said in a statement: “For more than six months, the NFL has ignored the facts, abused the process outlined in our collective bargaining agreement and failed to produce evidence that the players intended to injure anyone, ever.
“The only evidence that exists is the League’s gross violation of fair due process, transparency and impartiality during this process. Truth and fairness have been the casualties of the league’s refusal to admit that it might have made a mistake.
“We will review this decision thoroughly and review all options to protect our players’ rights with vigilance.”