- Created on Monday, 10 December 2012 20:00
More than nine months after the NFL first disclosed its bounty investigation of the New Orleans Saints, four players will finally get a ruling on whether their initial suspensions are upheld, reduced or thrown out.
Former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who was appointed to handle a second round of player appeals to the league, has informed all parties he planned to rule by Tuesday afternoon. His decision could affect whether two current Saints - linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith - get to play out the season.
If the sanctioned players find Tagliabue's decision palatable, that could finally bring the bounty saga to an end. If not, it will be up to a federal judge to either disqualify Tagliabue or let his ruling stand.
Even if Tagliabue maintains the suspensions, any punishment will delayed a week, allowing Vilma and Smith to at least play this Sunday at home against Tampa Bay, a person familiar with the decision said.
The delay is aimed at giving U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan in New Orleans time to review Tagliabue's ruling and decide if she still believes she must take the unusual step of getting involved in a collectively bargained process in order to protect the players' rights, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because no ruling had been announced.
If Vilma, Smith, Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove get the ruling they seek, it would discredit an NFL probe - overseen by Commissioner Roger Goodell - that covered three seasons and gathered about 50,000 pages of documents.
The probe concluded that Vilma and Smith were ring-leaders of a cash-for-hits program that rewarded injurious tackles labeled as ''cart-offs'' and ''knockouts.''
The NFL also concluded that Hargrove lied to NFL investigators to help cover up the program.
None of the players has served a game of their suspensions yet and have been allowed to play while appeals are pending, though Fujita is on injured reserve and Hargrove is not with a team. Shortly before the regular season, the initial suspensions were vacated by an appeal panel created by the league's collective bargaining agreement. Goodell then reissued them with some modifications. Meanwhile, the players have challenged the NFL's handling of the entire process in federal court.
Vilma received a full-season suspension, while Smith was docked four games. Hargrove initially received an eight-game suspension that was later trimmed to seven games, but for practical purposes, was reduced to two games because he was given credit for five games he missed as a free agent after being cut by Green Bay before the regular-season opener. Fujita had his initial suspension reduced from three games to one, with the league saying that he failed in his duty as a defensive leader in 2009 to discourage the bounty program run by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Goodell also suspended Williams indefinitely, while banning Saints head coach Sean Payton for a full season.
Tagliabue's ruling comes after a new round of hearings that for the first time allowed Vilma's attorneys and the NFL Players Association, which represents the other three players, to cross-examine key NFL witnesses in the probe. Those witnesses included Williams and former Saints assistant Mike Cerullo, who was fired after the 2009 season and whose email to the league, accusing the Saints of being ''a dirty organization,'' jump-started the probe.
Also for the first time, the NFL allowed players' attorneys to review all of the documents the NFL had collected, including some in which people stated that the players never did what they were accused of, the person who spoke with AP said.
- Evening of romance at BSO Valentine's concert
- DOE looking for summer food program sponsors
- Huge alumni gift for Bates College
- Kennebec County Jail is preparing for major renovations
- Don McLean pleads not guilty
- Tractor trailer accident closes 202
- Chess Tables Coming to Brewer Waterfront
- Rockland man arrested on child porn charges
- Man involved in two high speed chases last week is in custody
- Governor submits state of the state in writing
- Driver allegedly was drinking at time of crash
- Man involved in standoff in court Monday
- A new sandwhich shop opens its doors in Brewer!
- Joe Baldacci drops out of 2nd District race
- NASA releases stunning 360-degree Mars video
- Liam Neeson admits to dating 'incredibly famous' woman
- North Korean satellite reportedly 'tumbling in orbit,' making it useless
- Sanders closing Clinton's national polling lead, as NH votes
- Man trapped under avalanche pulled out 6 days later
- Teen stabbed to death had been grounded from social media, dad says
- What kind of America do Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders think we live in?
- 'OITNB' actress Taryn Manning sues NYC for $10M for 'false arrest'
- Sylvester Stallone almost boycott the Oscars
- Sylvester Stallone almost joined Oscars boycott
- 'The Bachelor' recap: Ben dumps bevy of blondes in The Bahamas
- Jim Shockey on daughter Eva: She represents hunters so well
- 'War Room' producer Stephen Kendrick wants more faith and family in Hollywood
- At least 2 killed, 100 others injured in Germany train collision
- At least 4 killed, 150 others injured in Germany train collision
- At least 8 killed, 150 others injured in Germany train collision
- At least 9 killed, 150 others injured in Germany train collision
- Republican governors make possible last stand in NH primary as voting begins
- Republican governors eye strong showing in NH primary as voting begins
- Sanders, Republican governors eye comeback in New Hampshire primary
- Johnny Manziel's ex-girlfriend says QB's attack caused temporary hearing loss
- FBI says Clinton email investigation remains 'ongoing'
- Wife of ISIS leader charged in US in death of American hostage Kayla Mueller
- Hugh Jackman reveals fourth battle with skin cancer on Instagram, shares post-op photo
- 'The Flash': Danielle Panabaker Talks Killer Frost, Deathstorm & Zoom
- Taylor Swift Leads iHeartRadio Award Nominations
- Michael Douglas Among Those Honored By AARP
- Beyonce's Super Bowl Show Bringing Both Praise & Criticism
- Maroon 5 Thanks Taraji P. Henson For Mistaken Super Bowl Shout-Out
- Maroon 5 'Thanks' Taraji P. Henson After Mistaken Super Bowl Shout-Out
- Super Bowl Draws 111.9 Million Viewers, Down From Last Year
- 'The Good Wife' Bosses Talk Ending The Show, Spinoff Potential
- Gwyneth Paltrow Testifies In Stalking Trial, Says Man's Letters Were Upsetting
- Conan O'Brien Heading To Harvard To Give Talk
- 'Monsters, Inc.' & 'Big Hero 6' Screenwriter Daniel Gerson Dies At 49
- Flavor Flav Pleads No Contest To DUI Charge In Las Vegas
- Porn Actress Drops $500K Lawsuit Against Josh Duggar
- 'The Good Wife': CBS Announces Final Nine Episodes
- Beyonce Announces 2016 Tour
- Flavor Flav Due To Face Las Vegas Judge On Misdemeanor Case
- Here Come The Super Bowl 50 Ads
- 'Kung Fu Panda 3' Tops Weekend Box Office
- Alejandro Inarritu Wins AT DGA Awards For 'The Revenant'
- Beyonce Drops Surprise Single Ahead Of Super Bowl Halftime Performance With Coldplay
- Benedict Cumberbatch, Emma Watson Named Visiting Fellows At Oxford College
- James Corden Recreates Classic Super Bowl Ad With Cindy Crawford For 'Late Late Show'
- Cindy Crawford & James Corden Recreate Her Classic Super Bowl Ad For 'The Late Late Show'
- Michael B. Jordan Wins Big At NAACP Image Awards
- Tom Brady boasts that he is not one of the best QBs ever
- Peyton Manning's mom explains why it's time for her son to retire
- Report: Off-duty cops hospitalized after alleged altercation involving LeSean McCoy
- Advanced stats will probably love Michigan in 2016
- Audi tearjerker, 'Puppymonkeybaby' among Super Bowl winners
- Offbeat humor and upbeat messages dominate Super Bowl ads
- Breaking news: NASCAR to announce new 'charter' system for teams
- 2nd-seeded Cilic and Dodig advance to 2nd round in Rotterdam
- Jordan Spieth honors Peyton Manning with classic forehead joke after Super Bowl win
- Mets give cap-tip to fellow runner-up Panthers after Super Bowl loss
- Cam Newton's authenticity is highly questionable
- 2016 New York Mets Preview & Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep
- All-Star Bobblehead Series among Marlins promotions in 2016
- Broncos offseason to-do list, starting with moving on from Manning
- Cam Newton's image took the biggest hit of all during the Super Bowl
- Dodgers' Pederson had a great view of Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show
- Paul George says he'll try to score 82 points in final game vs. Kobe
- From behind the lens at Super Bowl 50, Durant captures the other side
- DeMarcus Ware's son stole Deion Sanders' microphone after the Super Bowl
- Comfort wins: Stroman, Blue Jays watch Super Bowl 50 in onesies
- Parker to play with France despite wife's pregnancy
- Ronaldo open to leaving Real Madrid when contract expires
- Tyronn Lue on recent criticism: 'Look, they ridiculed Jesus Christ'
- Bryce Harper shared a laugh with Stephen Curry at Super Bowl 50