Roger Goodell: Saints players 'embraced' bounty system, punishment 'soon'

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer
Punishments for players like Vilma could come 'soon.' (Getty Images)

It was somewhat surprising not to see any action against Saints players involved in the bounty scandal last week. But according to Roger Goodell, that punishment will be coming "soon" and it sounds as if the league could hammer the players.

Goodell told Rich Eisen of NFL Network that the league did not give credence to the excuses that the players on the Saints were "just following orders" when they took part in the bounty program that the Saints ran.

"[The] evidence was clear that the players embraced it," Goodell told Eisen. "I don't think they are absolved from responsibility."

Eisen also tweeted that Goodell rejected the notion that the players were "just following orders" from Gregg Williams and members of the Saints coaching staff.

In other words, the NFL believes the players are just as culpable as the members of the Saints coaching staff when it came to using financial incentives to aggressively pursue injuries of opponents.

This are damning words from Goodell: if the Commissioner believes that the players are just as responsible for the bounty system as the coaches, there could be harsh punishments on the way.

Jonathan Vilma's considered the ringleader in terms of players involved in the bounty scandal, and he's reportedly been bracing for a "two-to-eight game suspension." Roman Harper and Will Smith have also been mentioned as players who could potentially face a big hammer from Goodell.

Given the way Goodell spoke to Eisen, it would probably behoove him to start leaning towards the longer end on his estimate.

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