Saints BountyGate : Goodell Lowers Hammer : Vilma out for year

The long wait is finally over as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell lowered the hammer on players involved in the Saints Bounty scandal.

Suspending DE Will Smith four games, and suspending defensive captain and middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the year. Anthony Hargrove ( now with the Green Bay Packers ) and Scott Fujita ( now with the Cleveland Browns ) were also suspended eight games, and four games respectively.

According to NFL insider Adam Schefter the players don’t look to be taking this lying down, saying ; “get ready for a massive multiple legal battle over this on several fronts.”

If Vilma and the others sue the NFL, it will only continue to perpetrate the perception that the Saints are arrogant and believe they are above the law.

Perceptions that didn’t die down with the tweets from Saints players ( including Drew Brees ) that sounded indignant that the NFL dare suspend or punish their team or coach.

According to ESPN’s reports, here are just some of the notes released from the NFL in regards to Bounty Gate.

• Vilma, also is alleged to have helped Williams create and fund the program. Also, the NFL said Vilma pledged $10,000 in cash to any Saints player who knocked former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner out of the 2009 divisional playoff game involving the teams and then repeated the pledge for Favre for the NFC title game.

• Hargrove submitted a signed declaration to the NFL not only that the Saints’ bounty program existed, but that he was an active participant in it. In addition, the NFL said that Hargrove told at least one player on another team that former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was a target of the Saints’ bounty pool in the 2009 NFC Championship Game and that Hargrove obstructed the league’s investigation in 2010 when he wasn’t truthful with investigators.

Look, I’ll be the first one to tell you that I hate the Saints… with a passion.

But no team deserves this kind of punishment, no region of fans deserves to have their team crippled in this fashion.

And they only have themselves to blame for it.

I think that Sean Payton is a brilliant offensive mind, and that Gregg Williams is the kind of coach I’d like to play for, but these two men allowed their egos to get the better of them.

Egos that grew into full fledged defiance and arrogance that is well documented throughout this process. Egos that have now destroyed the wonderful story of redemption and a region revived by the post-Katrina Super Bowl win.

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