On Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made some minor tweaks to the punishments he previously handed down to players involved in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program.
Scott Fujita got his suspension reduced from three games to one game, and Anthony Hargrove got his suspension cut from eight games to seven games (which will get reduced to two once he signs with a team). Jonathan Vilma will remain suspended; however, he will get to keep the checks he received for games spent on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list. Will Smith’s suspension remained intact, too.
In response to this latest word from Goodell, the NFLPA offered this statement:
"For more than six months, the NFL has ignored the facts, abused the process outlined in our collective bargaining agreement and failed to produce evidence that the players intended to injure anyone, ever," the NFLPA wrote in a release (via NFL.com). "The only evidence that exists is the League's gross violation of fair due process, transparency and impartiality during this process. Truth and fairness have been the casualties of the league's refusal to admit that it might have made a mistake.
"We will review this decision thoroughly and review all options to protect our players' rights with vigilance."
Goodell, for his part, offered his own statement.
"In my recent meetings with the players and their counsel, the players addressed the allegations and had an opportunity to tell their side of the story," Goodell wrote to NFL teams in a memorandum (via NFL.com).
"In those meetings, the players confirmed many of the key facts disclosed in our investigation, most particularly that the program offered cash rewards for 'cart-offs,' that players were encouraged to 'crank up the John Deere tractor' and have their opponents carted off the field, and that rewards were offered and paid for plays that resulted in opposing players having to leave the field of play."
So there you go. Make of that what you will.
The ball is now in the NFLPA’s court.