Appeals panel overturns Saints' suspensions

Michael P. Tremoglie Sep. 10, 2012, 11:00am


NEW ORLEANS (Legal Newsline) - A three-member collective bargaining agreement appeals panel overturned the suspension of four current and former New Orleans Saints football players allegedly involved in a "bounty" program.

The National Football League Players Association had appealed the suspension by the league's commissioner.

Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith all received various terms of suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for their alleged part in the pay-for-performance bounty program that gave cash bonuses for injuring members of the other team.

The NFLPA maintained that the commissioner did not have the authority to order the suspensions. They said the alleged bounty program was an undisclosed compensation agreement and the commissioner did not have jurisdiction. The panel concurred.

The league reinstated the players immediately, but it did not permanently rescind the suspensions. The panel remanded the case back to the commissioner for "redetermination."

The NFL Players Association noted its support of the overturned player suspensions in a statement: "We are pleased that the appeals panel ruled unanimously to lift the players' suspensions immediately. We will continue to vigorously protect the rights of all players."

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