When an appeals panel ruled in favor of the four players involved in the Saints bounty debacle that won’t reach some kind of finality for at least another seven years, the result was a case file given back to Roger Goodell, and he was then tasked with handing out more fitting penalties.
Now his next ruling has been issued, and it looks nearly the same as his first ruling. Just die, offseason of 2012.
Essentially, the league has reaffirmed the suspensions, with two mild reductions. Former Saints and current Browns linebacker Scott Fujita had his suspension reduced from three games to one, while free agent Anthony Hargrove will sit out a total of seven games instead of eight. However, if a team signs him Hargrove will only have to sit out two more games after receiving credit for the five he’s already missed.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Vilma will remain suspended for the year, although he’ll still keep the game checks he’s accumulated thus far, and Will Smith is still out for eight games. In a lengthy statement outlining his rationale, Goodell maintains that although Vilma claims he didn’t place a bounty of any kind on Brett Favre, the evidence of his conduct is still overwhelming:
“I find, based on all of these facts and the entire record described above, that you did, in fact, pledge money to any teammate who injured or disabled Mr. Favre to an extent that he would not be able to continue playing in the playoff game,” Goodell wrote to Vilma. “I recognize that you and some of your teammates have denied that you made such a pledge or claim not to recall your doing so, but I am persuaded, based on the entirety of the record before me, that you did so. And I find that such a pledge or any similar incentive is conduct detrimental.”
While this feels like it’s over, Vilma will surely continue to exhaust any and all legal avenues available. Hey, at least at this pace next February when the dreary days of the offseason start again we know that we’ll have something to write about every day, over and over.