The NFL announced on Wednesday that four current and former New Orleans Saints players alleged to participate in the Saints’ defensive bounty system have incurred suspensions for the 2013 season, with current Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma shockingly getting the same penalty as his head coach, Sean Payton: one year, without pay, without offseason contact.
Other players suffering the wrath of Fidel Goodell include Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove, Saints defensive end Will Smith and Cleveland Browns’ linebacker Scott Fujita. Hargrove’s sentence is of the eight-game variety, while Smith and Fujita were handed four and three game penalties, respectively. All three will be able to participate in offseason activity, but all suspensions are without pay.
According to ESPN.com, the NFL claims to have evidence proving Vilma and Smith each helped create and fund former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ bounty program, while Fujita gave the program “a significant amount of money.” In addition, the NFL claims to have a written admission from Hargrove admitting the program existed AND that he was an active participant.
Meanwhile, the NFL Players Association claims it has still yet to receive ANY information from the NFL about evidence for any player involvement or punishment on the matter.
CLUS. TER. EFF.
The players are already vowing to appeal, as they should. No evidence has actually been provided, and the NFL is being its super-dictatorial self in its “right” to throw penalties against the wall and hope they stick.
For all I know, sure, the reasoning for these penalties could be valid. We all readily accept the assumption that this bounty program existed and is a violation of both unwritten and written rules. Not many people argued against Payton getting his year suspension, or any other suspension handed out in the first wave of response.
But… there is a due process in assigning any sort of punishment, and while the NFL might have actually gone through that behind closed doors, the fact that no one else was involved or aware of what was going on is pretty fishy.
Vilma found out about his suspension from watching SportsCenter. I mean, come on.
There’s a whole other argument as to whether the punishment fits the crime, but man, I just heard Junior Seau died in what could possibly be a suicide, and I’m having a difficult time finding this as important as it once was. Blah blah, players trying to hurt players for 1/3 of a game check, obviously there are other issues that need more time addressed to them.
TMZ reports that Seau, 43, was found dead in his Oceanside, CA home by his housekeeper this morning. When the story was first being reported, police were said to have been seen talking with a man from inside the house who appeared “distraught.”
Police are now currently operating under the belief that Seau died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. The media has already made the disturbing connection to the 2011 death of Dave Duerson, who shot himself in the chest after writing in his suicide note that he wanted his brain donated and researched for connections between football collisions and concussions to mental impairment later in life.
Seau, a linebacker by trade, plied his craft for 20 years in the NFL after being drafted 5th overall in 1990 out of USC by the San Diego Chargers. Also playing for the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, Seau was a 12-time Pro Bowler, 10-time All-Pro, and a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. He also won the 1994 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award, as well 1992 AFC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Seau is survived by his three children and ex-wife.