Saints Players Win Bounty Suspension Appeal: Report

09/07/2012 04:16 pm ET | Updated Sep 07, 2012
  • AP/The Huffington Post

The New Orleans Saints have won a skirmish in their ongoing battle against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, as first reported by Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated. Jonathan Vilma and three other players who were suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for their alleged roles in the team's bounty program have won an appeal,

ProFootballTalk and ESPN's Adam Schefter also reported that the appeals panels ruled to overturn the suspensions.

Legal analyst Gabe Feldman tweeted that the case will go back to Goodell for a "redetermination of appropriate penalties" in the aftermath of this latest development. Therefore, Goodell can still impose some type of discipline Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland's Scott Fujita and free agent Anthony Hargrove.

According to Peter King, the victory at appeal does not alter the status of Saints head coach Sean Payton of general manager Mickey Loomis.

Each player is now eligible to play this weekend, per Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, but Vilma is unlikely to play due to a knee injury. But that didn't stop him from declaring victory.

More from the Associated Press:

NEW ORLEANS — The suspensions of four players in the NFL's bounty investigation have been lifted by a three-member appeals panel. The league reinstated those players a few minutes after Friday's ruling.

The panel said Commissioner Roger Goodell did not have jurisdiction to hear the players' appeals of their punishment for their roles in the New Orleans Saints bounty program that paid cash bonuses for hits that injured opponents.

While the ruling allows Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove to play immediately, it does not permanently void their suspensions.

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