NEW ORLEANS — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspensions of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith on Tuesday for their role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal and reduced penalties for Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove.
Vilma will sit out the season and Smith’s punishment stands at four games.
Hargrove, a free agent defensive lineman, will face a two-game suspension once he signs with a team. He originally was hit with eight games, but that was reduced to seven with five games already served. Fujita, who plays for Cleveland, will miss one game instead of three.
The players were implicated in what the NFL said was a bounty pool run by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and paid improper cash bonuses for hits that injured opponents. The players have acknowledged a pool but denied they intended to injure anyone.
Goodell’s new ruling comes about a month after an appeal panel created by the NFL’s labor agreement vacated the original suspensions on technical grounds. The panel asked Goodell to clarify to extent to which his ruling involved conduct detrimental to the league, which he has the sole authority to handle, and salary cap violations resulting from bonus payments, which would have to be ruled upon by an arbitrator other than the commissioner.
Only Smith and Fujita have played this season. Vilma has been recovering from offseason knee surgery and hopes to return in two weeks when the Saints play at Tampa Bay.
Karras allowed to go home
Alex Karras was recently released from a California hospital after having kidney failure so he could spend his final days with family.
“He may be dying of kidney failure because now his body is catching up to the deterioration of his mind,” Craig Mitnick, Karras’ attorney in a lawsuit against the NFL, told The Associated Press on Tuesday afternoon.
The 77-year-old former All-Pro defensive tackle and actor, who was born and raised in Gary, Ind., lives in Los Angeles.
Karras had a well-known appearance as Mongo in the 1974 movie “Blazing Saddles” and was a star in the 1980s sitcom “Webster.”
Texans lose inspirational leader
Linebacker Brian Cushing is out for the season with a torn left knee ligament, leaving the unbeaten Houston Texans without their top tackler and one of their emotional leaders.
Cushing was hurt in the second quarter of the Texans’ 23-17 win over the New York Jets on a low block by guard Matt Slauson. Cushing walked off the field on his own, but didn’t return.
Coach Gary Kubiak said Tuesday that Cushing has a torn anterior cruciate ligament and will need surgery in two to three weeks, after the swelling subsides. Cushing was leading Houston in tackles (38) before Monday night’s game.
Kevin Faulk has made it official. After two injury-plagued seasons, the running back is retiring after 13 years with the New England Patriots.
The team’s career leader in all-purpose yards formally announced his retirement at the team’s Hall of Fame.
Brees’ football to Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame has received the football Drew Brees threw to eclipse Hall of Fame and former Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas’ record of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
Bills bolster line
The Buffalo Bills have signed Reggie Wells to address an injury-depleted offensive line.