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New Orleans Saints Players Win Arbitration in Pay-to-Hurt Scandal

Tuesday, September, 11, 2012

Four New Orleans Saints football players were recently reinstated and allowed to play this season by an arbitration panel. The players had been suspended because of their alleged involvement with a "pay to hurt" scheme.


Who gets to get back into the game ASAP--and who's getting left out? Read on to find out.

Who the Contract Arbitration Saved


Among those able to play again are defensive lineman Will Smith; linebacker Jonathan Vilma (who shouted "Victory is mine!" when he heard the ruling); linebacker Scott Fujita (now of Cleveland); and defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (who went to play for Green Bay but was cut in August).


These four players have had their suspensions lifted and are now eligible to play, just as long as a coach is willing to put them on the field.

Who the Panel Didn't Decide On


The panel didn't decide the fate of everyone connected with the scandal, however. NOLA Saints coach Sean Payton is still banned for the year, while defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is out of the action until further notice (with no guarantee of a notice).


Linebacker coach Joe Vitt, while not vindicated by the recent round of talks, has it easy in comparison to the other two. He only has to sit out for the first six games.

Different Rules in Coach Employment Arbitration?


There has been some question as to whether there is a separate set of rules being applied to the players versus the coaches.


Some have tried to make a distinction between the crimes committed--what constitutes actions detrimental to the league, vs. what only constitutes taking related but unreported pay--and therefore who should be involved in handling the disputes.


Right now, there is no official word on when or if the coaches may receive their own round of arbitration. All that is known for sure is that, for players like Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma, and especially New Orleans residents and Saints fans, victory is certainly theirs.