I have to admit I got this one wrong.
After a federal judge had harsh words for the NFL and an appeals panel threw out the original suspensions, Roger Goodell upheld the year-long and four-game bounty suspensions of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith. However, Goodell did slightly reduce the suspensions of Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita.
I'd like to believe it's just a coincidence that Roger Goodell upheld the suspensions of the current New Orleans Saints players and reduced the suspensions of the former Saints. Hargrove's suspension went from eight games to seven and Fujita's went from three games to one. But I just don't trust Goodell anymore.
In Jonathan Vilma's court case against Roger Goodell and the NFL, federal judge Helen Berrigan was critical of how the league issued its punishments to the players. Like most judges, she encouraged the two sides to work things out so she wouldn't have to rule. But now that Goodell has upheld Vilma's suspension, I expect the case to go back to her.
From what I've read in my research on this matter, Roger Goodell's golden goose appears to be a signed affidavit by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams that New Orleans had a bounty system. But Vilma's attorney could subpoena Williams and Goodell to testify, which is why I'm surprised the commissioner didn't relent.
Of course, when you're the boss, you tend to think that checks and balances are nothing more than an old fashioned way to pay bills and a seesaw on the playground. Roger Goodell has had absolute power since becoming the NFL commissioner and he has exercised it to its fullest extent.
New Orleans Saints
As for the Saints, the four-game suspension of Will Smith comes at a time when New Orleans finally showed some semblance of a pass rush in its last game. Jonathan Vilma was due to come off the PUP list and add experience and depth to a depleted Saints' linebacker corps. The Saints' defense needs all the help it can get.
Roger Goodell will be hanging out in New Orleans for about a week in early February and I really thought he'd throw a small olive branch to Saints' fans in the person of reduced suspensions. Instead, the anger and frustration will continue in a case that is sure to end badly for everyone.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of the New Orleans Saints. Patrick's favorite Saints season was 2009 when New Orleans won Super Bowl 44. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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