A month after an internal affairs panel vacated the suspensions of the Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Will Smith and Anthony Hargrove, the NFL re-issued their suspensions. There was some changes to the punishments, but not for the current New Orleans Saints players.
This afternoon the NFL announced that it had reduced the suspensions of Fujita from three games to one and Hargrove from eight games to seven, but did not change the suspensions of Vilma (full season) and Smith (four games).
"In my recent meetings with the players and their counsel, the players addressed the allegations and had an opportunity to tell their side of the story," Goodell wrote in his decision. "In those meetings, the players confirmed many of the key facts disclosed in our investigation, most particularly that the program offered cash rewards for ‘cart-offs,' that players were encouraged to ‘crank up the John Deere tractor' and have their opponents carted off the field, and that rewards were offered and paid for plays that resulted in opposing players having to leave the field of play."
The NFL Players Association issued the following response to Goodell's latest ruling:
"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."
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