Bounty rulings favor the rich

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Story by Steve Fruehauf, Staff Writer

Last Friday, a three-member panel ruled in favor of reinstating four NFL players caught in the midst of the New Orleans Saints’ injury rewarding bounty scandal uncovered earlier this year.

The panel, consisting of two retired judges and a college professor, found that it wasn’t in NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s jurisdiction to suspend players given the accusation nor hear their appeals on his own. Rather, they left it up to Special Master Stephen Burbank to dish out punishment when dealing with players receiving money for high risk plays.

For Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Will Smith, and Anthony Hargrove, this ruling is most likely a long awaited sigh of relief. The four were accused earlier this year of accepting bribes at some point in their careers to injure key opposing players, specifically quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Brett Favre in the 2009-2010 playoffs.

Although they have been reinstated, this should by no means free them of future punishment relating to the scandal.

All four have eight or more years of NFL experience under their belt. They were all big contributors to the Saints defense. It would have been crazy for Saints coaches not to go to these guys when trying to make deals.

Thus, I find them just as guilty for not bringing light to the situation earlier. I’m all for physical play, but when someone purposely tries to injure others, it’s crossing a line.

The panel did say that Goodell could continue his search for further insight on these players’ intent to injure other athletes. This would be penalty under conduct detrimental to the game which is within his jurisdiction.

With all this time already invested into the case and the serious suspension time he previously handed out, I’d be shocked and saddened to see Goodell not pursue the matter further.

Personally, I think letting these four back in the NFL before their suspensions are served only shows what people with money can get away with. Goodell was harsh while dishing out their punishments for a reason. He was trying to set a league-wide example: play fair and play clean. What do these guys need extra money for anyways?

Professional athletes in the NFL are making six figures minimum, and most make much more than that. That’s more than enough to comfortably support a family of ten. I think it’s idiotic that they’re paid that much in the first place, but to put greed on top of what they already receive is disgusting.