The NFL has officially denied the appeals of the four players that were suspended due to the league’s investigation of the bounty scandal within the New Orleans Saints organization. Commissioner Roger Goodell has told Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita that, although the appeals were denied, he is still willing to meet with them to hear their side of the story and will reserve the right to reduce the suspensions if he finds any new and useful information.
Goodell stated that even though the players said they were wrongly accused due to insufficient evidence, it was their choice to not fully participate in their appeal hearings. Goodell had this to say:
“Although you claimed to have been ‘wrongfully accused with insufficient evidence,’ your lawyers elected not to ask a single question of the principal investigators, both of whom were present at the hearing (as your lawyers had requested); you elected not to testify or to make any substantive statement, written or oral, in support of your appeal; you elected not to call a single witness to support your appeal; and you elected not to introduce a single exhibit addressing the merits of your appeal,” Goodell said of the players’ appeal hearings in a statement. “Instead, your lawyers raised a series of jurisdictional and procedural objections that generally ignore the CBA, in particular its provisions governing ‘conduct detrimental’ determinations … “
The investigation stems from findings that the Saints defense was operating under bounty system where players were paid for hard hits and in some cases injuries of opposing players.
Jonathan Vilma has received the harshest of the punishments – being suspended for the entirety of the 2012 NFL season. Will Smith has been suspended four games. Anthony Hargrove, who recently moved to the Green Bay Packers, will miss eight games. And Scott Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns, has been suspended for three games.