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NFL suspends 4 players in Saints' bounty scandal

May 2, 2012 at 12:53 PM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, May 2 (UPI) -- New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma was suspended for one year and three players were banned for parts of next season for roles in the Saints' bounty scheme.

Vilma was ordered to sit out the 2012 season by the NFL for allegedly offering $10,000 to a player for knocking Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner out of a 2009 playoff game.

Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, who now plays for Green Bay; defensive end Will Smith and Scott Fujita, now with Cleveland, were suspended for part of the season, the league said Wednesday.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he decided on the penalties after focusing on "players who were in leadership positions at the Saints; contributed a particularly large sum of money toward the program; specifically contributed to a bounty on an opposing player; demonstrated a clear intent to participate in a program that potentially injured opposing players; sought rewards for doing so; and/or obstructed the 2010 investigation."

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely for his lead role in the 2009-11 program in which players were allegedly offered cash to injure or force opposing players from games against New Orleans.

New Orleans Coach Sean Payton was suspended for the 2012 season and General Manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight regular-season games.

Vilma's suspension takes effect immediately, the NFL said. Hargrove is to miss the first eight games of the 2012 season while Smith was ordered to sit for four games and Fujita three.

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