“We’re pleased that the unjust penalties have been overturned, but this is only one piece in remedying the situation for Jonathan.”
- Peter Ginsberg, attorney for Jonathan Vilma
Paul Tagliabue vacates New Orleans Saints bounty suspensions
A spokesperson for the league tells a YouWager news source that the suspensions for the players that were punished as a result of the NFL’s investigation into the bounty for hits program at the New Orleans Saints, Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita, and Anthony Hargrove, have been vacated.
While other sports wagering news may cover this story, YouWager offers sportsbook bettors more information on these proceedings. We will tell you what ‘vacate’ means. According to a top NFL wagering pro at YouWager, to ‘vacate’ a court order, means to cancel it or render it null and void.
To settle the appeals, Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, was appointed to rule on the second round of player appeals. Tagliabue’s ruling follows the most recent hearings. For the first time in the ongoing case, Vilma’s lawyers and those that represented the NFL Players Association, which spoke for the other three football players, were allowed to cross-examine the key witnesses for the league. The witnesses included former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and former assistant Mike Cerullo. Cerullo was fired after the 2009 NFL football betting season. Williams was banned from the NFL for life.
According to YouWager’s source, in an official statement from the NFL, Tagliabue said, “Unlike Saints’ broad organizational misconduct, player appeals involve sharply focused issues of alleged individual player misconduct in several different aspects. My affirmation of Commissioner Goodell’s findings could certainly justify the issuance of fines. However, this entire case has been contaminated by the coaches and others in the Saints’ organization.”
YouWager’s source reports that the league also issued a statement on Tagliabue’s ruling: “We respect Mr. Tagliabue’s decision, which underscores the due process afforded players in NFL disciplinary matters,” the NFL said in a statement released on Twitter. “This matter has now been reviewed by Commissioner Goodell, two CBA grievance arbitrators, the CBA Appeals Panel, and Mr. (Tagliabue) as Commissioner Goodell’s designated appeals officer.
“… The decisions have made clear that the Saints operated a bounty program in violation of league rules for three years, that the program endangered player safety, and that the commissioner has the authority under the CBA to impose discipline for those actions as conduct detrimental to the league. Strong action was taken in this matter to protect player safety and ensure that bounties would be eliminated from football.”
Peter Ginsberg, Jonathan’s Vilma’s attorney, told YouWager’s source that Vilma still plans to follow through with his defamation lawsuit. “Jonathan intends to continue to pursue the defamation lawsuit in order to reclaim his reputation,” Ginsberg said.
The NFL investigation team that covered three NFL football wagering seasons determined that Vilma and Smith were the leaders of a program that rewarded payouts to players for hard hits the team called “cart-offs” and “knockouts.” The league also concluded that Anthony Hargrove, now a free agent, as a Saints defensive lineman, told lies in an attempt to cover up the bounty program.
As YouWager’s most serious football bettors will remember, in the most recent reversal in the Bountygate saga, the suspended players were permitted to play while their appeals were pending. Right now, Fujita is on injured reserve and Hargrove is not with any NFL team. Before the 2012 NFL regular season began, the initial suspensions were first vacated by an appeal panel. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made modifications to the process, and the players dared to openly challenge the NFL in a federal court. The New Orleans Saints have played the season without head coach Sean Payton. YouWager’s NFL expert reminds us that Payton is the first coach in the history of the NFL to be punished in such a way. Payton did not file any appeals or contest the ban.