Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 5/2/12
Four players for the New Orleans Saints have been suspended without pay for conduct detrimental to the NFL as a result of their roles in the team's bounty program that endangered player safety over three seasons. Jonathan Vilma has been suspended for the entire 2012 season, Scott Fujita for the first three games, Anthony Hargrove for the first eight games and Will Smith for the first four games. "It is the obligation of everyone, including the players on the field, to ensure that rules designed to promote player safety, fair play, and the integrity of the game are adhered to and effectively and consistently enforced," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "Respect for the men that play the game starts with the way players conduct themselves with each other on the field." Vilma assisted Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in establishing and funding the program. Vilma also offered a specific bounty -- $10,000 in cash -- to any player who knocked Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner out of the 2009 Divisional Playoff Game and later pledged the same amount to anyone who knocked Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship Game the following wee. Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns, pledged a significant amount of money to the prohibited pay-for-performance pool during the 2009 NFL Playoffs when he played for the Saints. Smith, a defensive end, assisted Williams in establishing and funding the program during a period in which he was a captain and leader of the defensive unit. Hargrove, now with the Green Bay Packers, actively participated in the program while a member of the Saints. Hargrove submitted a signed declaration to the league that established not only the existence of the program at the Saints, but also that he knew about and participated in it. Fujita, Hargrove, and Smith may participate in all off-season activity, including preseason games, prior to the suspensions taking effect.
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