NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – An appeals panel has overturned the suspensions of four New Orleans Saints players for their role in the alleged bounty case where players were rewarded for intentionally injuring opponents, according to SI.com’s Jim Trotter.
The players, including former UM star linebacker Jonathan Vilma, will now be eligible to play immediately for the Saints and other respective teams. The impacted players other than Vilma are defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and free agent defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove.
Vilma took to Twitter immediately after the decision and decided to quote the popular cartoon “Family Guy.”
“Victory is mine!’ – Stewie Griffin” Vilma wrote on Twitter.
However, the appeals panel left the power to suspend in the hands of Goodell. The panel said Goodell can only reconsider discipline if there is evidence to injure beyond just a performance pool, according to Trotter.
That means Goodell could theoretically still suspend the players, if he meets the standards set forth by the appeals panel.
The decision will not impact the suspensions of New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton, according to SI.com’s Peter King.
Of the suspended players, Smith is expected to be the first one to line up and play this Sunday. The addition of Smith will be a big boost for the Saints defense as they try to corral rookie quarterback Robert Griffin, III.
The decision also means that all of the players are now eligible for their paychecks, according to ESPN.com’s John Clayton.
Vilma had originally been suspended for the season while Smith, Fujita, and Hargrove had faced varying suspensions.