The NFL announced their decision today regarding punishments for Saints players in the Saints pay-to-injure investigation. Four players were included in the punishment – Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma.
Fujita, now with the Browns, is suspended for the first three games of the 2012 season, without pay. Anthony Hargrove, now with the Packers, is suspended for the first 8 games of the season. Will Smith, still with the Saints, is suspended for the first four games of the season. Vilma received the harshest penalties, as he was suspended for a full year.
In the announcement, commissioner Roger Goodell said, “Respect for the men that play the game starts with the way players conduct themselves with each other on the field.”
“It is the obligation of everyone, including the players on the field, to ensure that rules designed to promote player safety, fair play, and the integrity of the game are adhered to and effectively and consistently enforced,” Commissioner Goodell said.
The NFLPA responded quickly. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith released a statement shortly following the announcement by the NFL.
“After seeing the NFL’s decision letters, the NFLPA has still not received any detailed or specific evidence from the league of these specific players’ involvement in an alleged pay-to-injure program,” the statement read. “We have made it clear that punishment without evidence is not fair. We have spoken with our players and their representatives and we will vigorously protect and pursue all options on their behalf.”