NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspensions of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith on Tuesday for their role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal and reduced penalties for Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove.
Vilma will sit out the entire season and Smith’s punishment stands at four games.
Hargrove, a free-agent defensive lineman, will face a two-game suspension once he signs with a team. He originally was hit with eight games, but that was reduced to seven with five games already served. Fujita, who plays for Cleveland, will miss only one game instead of three.
The players were implicated in what the NFL said was a bounty pool run by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and paid improper cash bonuses for hits that injured opponents. The players have acknowledged a pool but denied they intended to injure anyone.
Goodell’s new ruling comes about a month after an appeal panel created by the NFL’s labor agreement vacated the original suspensions on technical grounds during Week 1 of the regular season and informed Goodell that he needed to clarify the reasons for the punishment. The panel asked Goodell to clarify to extent to which his ruling involved conduct detrimental to the league, which he has the sole authority to handle, and salary cap violations resulting from bonus payments, which would have to be ruled upon by an arbitrator other than the commissioner.
The players can further delay their suspensions by appealing again through their labor contract.
Around the league
Coach Rex Ryan says there is “no question” that Mark Sanchez is the New York Jets’ starting quarterback despite struggling at times against the Houston Texans. Ryan thought Sanchez “played pretty good” in the Jets’ 23-17 loss to Houston on Monday night. He cites three dropped passes and four tips as skewing Sanchez’s final stats: 14 of 31 for 230 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions … The Washington Redskins released struggling kicker Billy Cundiff and replaced him with free agent Kai Forbath. Forbath won the Lou Groza Award with UCLA in 2009 as the top kicker in college football, but he has yet to play in the NFL … Linebacker Brian Cushing is out for the season with a torn left knee ligament, leaving the unbeaten Houston Texans without their top tackler and one of their emotional leaders. Cushing was leading Houston in tackles (38) before Monday’s game … The Arizona Cardinals announced that they are putting running back Ryan Williams on injured reserve with a left shoulder injury, officially ending his season.