Saints' linebacker Jonathan Vilma took the brunt of a blow delivered to the Saints' by the NFL Wednesday morning. The NFL has decided that due to the bounty program run by Gregg Williams and the Saints' defense, four players will be suspended during the 2012 season. Vilma got the worst of it, receiving a full season suspension effective today. Anthony Hargrove, now playing with the Packers, will be suspended for 8 games, while Will Smith will be out 4 games and Scott Fujita, now with the Browns, out 3. All players plan on appealing their suspensions.
This really got me mad when I first heard about it. Most defensive players on the football field try to deliver knock out blows to any player they can get a clean shot at. The blow doesn't necessarily have to be to the head or to the knees, but you better bet they're trying to leave their ears ringing. I'm almost positive that Vilma was trying to knock Tom Brady out back when he was playing for the Jets, and just because he now has coaches who endorse that kind of play he's getting in trouble? I think most people would agree that it would be unfair to punish Vilma so harshly for that. However, that's not why the NFL suspended these players.
As I looked further into it, I found that these four players were not just participating in the bounty program on the field, but they were funding it as well. Smith and Vilma both helped former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams create the bounty program, and Vilma even offered $10,000 to any player who knocked out Kurt Warner or Brett Favre during the Saints' Super Bowl winning playoff run. Smith and Fujita are also said to have contributed money to the program. Hargrove, on the other hand, simply admitted to participating and lied to the league about the program in 2010. Hargrove's 8 game suspension is the one that bothers me the most.