Here’s how USA Today reports these turn of events:
The case will now go back to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who could impose new penalties based on different violations.
A three-person collective bargaining panel overturned the season-long suspension of linebacker Jonathan Vilma and the four-game suspension of defensive end Will Smith. The three-game suspension of Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and eight-game band for free agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove have also been lifted.
The NFL said the players are reinstated and are immediately eligible to play in Week 1, but hinted that the saga may not be complete yet.
"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," the NFL said in a statement. "Until that determination is made, the four players are reinstated and eligible to play starting this weekend."
In other words, the three-person panel remanded the decision to Goodell essentially telling him that he has no jurisdiction over this issue except for those matters related to exceeding salary caps and related items.
After the ruling hit the airwaves and the webwaves Friday afternoon, here are some of the tweets
@reggie_bush Reggie Bush
Congrats to J. Vilma, Will Smith, and S. Fujita on winning apeals in Saints Bounty Case! The power has shifted back to the players!
Sep 7, 2012 22:08 GMT
@realskipbayless Skip Bayless
Hooray for Vilma and Fujita getting re-instated by appeals panel. Still believe Goodell overreacted to rushed, shoddy bounty investigation.
Sep 7, 2012 22:18 GMT
Will Smith expected to play, Jonathan Vilma expected to sit Sunday http://t.co/RczCOvLa
@mortreport Chris Mortensen
Vilma and Smith (Saints) and Fujita (Browns) have been granted roster exemptions, league has notified teams, if they don't want to play them
@notsportscenter NOT SportsCenter
BREAKING: Worried the #Saints case might warp the perception of his power, Roger Goodell announces he will be invading Poland
@sportslawguy Gabe Feldman
And, yes, this makes Goodell the judge, jury, and redeterminer. And still leaves the players w/ no appeal right for "conduct detrimental."
@priscocbs Pete Prisco
NFLPA gloating. Good victory. But why allow Goodell to have the power in the first place? Wait, they negotiated that.
While the punishment phase for different offenses are not over and a federal judge still needs to decide how to handle the case in front of her in the Vilma vs. Goodell matter, for now, it’s a good thing for the commissioner that this weekend is not the Super Bowl which will be played in New Orleans next year.
If it were, something tells us that Goodell would be heavily surrounded by police, body guards, national guardmen, and maybe even secret service men when he would be handing off the Lombardi trophy to the champion--even if it were the Saints.
Instead, Sunday will simply be the Saints versus the Skins.
So, for now, the crowd can practice their chants and their boos on Sunday (with a much relieved Vilma and Smith in tow) and strengthen their vocal chords for that big show down at the Dome, February 2012.
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