New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and at-large defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove are all allowed to play in the NFL starting this weekend.
How can this be, when they were found guilty of taking out other players and accepting bounties? Because a three-member panel and their decision to overturn the suspensions.
This is a HUGE setback for the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell.
According to the panel ruling, Goodell can re-suspend the players but he has to be much more thorough about actually producing evidence this time.
"Consistent with the panel's decision, Commissioner Goodell will, as directed, make an expedited determination of the discipline imposed for violating the league's pay-for-performance/bounty rule. Until that determination is made, the four players are reinstated and eligible to play starting this weekend."
Saints coaches and executives, including head coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis, and assistant coach Joe Vitt, are still suspended. They weren't part of the appeal.
Now if we could just get the other guys back off the field, loophole-free, that'd be just fantastic!
Such a violent and awful thing to do!
[Image via AP Images.]