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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has rejected the appeals of four suspended New Orleans Saints players. Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita were suspended in connection with the investigation of the New Orleans Saints’ “bounty” program.
“The suspensions imposed were reasonable action taken to preserve public confidence in, and the integrity of, the game of professional football,” Goodell wrote in a letter sent to the players
Goodell said that each player is welcome to meet with him to share his side of the story, but that he still reserves the right to reduce the suspensions if they are able to provide new information that would warrant it.
“Throughout this entire process, including your appeals, and despite repeated invitations and encouragement to do so, none of you has offered any evidence that would warrant reconsideration of your suspensions,” Goodell said. “Instead, you elected not to participate meaningfully in the appeal process …”
The players have declined to meet with Goodell, saying that because he’s already spoken publicly about the scandal, he couldn’t be neutral in deciding on the issues.
The NFL alleges that the four players were a part of a scheme that offered cash to teammates who injured targeted opponents. The NFL said that their investigation showed that the players paid into the system run by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Vilma was the player who received the harshest sentence. He was suspended for the entire 2012 season, but has filed two separate lawsuits one of which would allow him to continue working until the case is settled.
Smith was suspended for four games. Hargrove was suspended for 8 games. Fujita was suspended for 3 games.
Vilma was the only of the players whose suspension began immediately. The other players are still able to participate in training camp.