Suspensions for four players connected to the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal have been overturned by a three-man arbitration panel, sources tell ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
The ruling should clear Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove to start the season.
"Victory is mine!!!! -stewie griffin," Vilma tweeted Friday afternoon.
The panel's decision affects the players only, not suspended coaches Gregg Williams, Sean Payton and Joe Vitt.
The NFL Players Association and the four players had claimed in consolidated lawsuits that Goodell abused his authority and followed improper procedures in disciplining the players for a program that, according to NFL investigators, paid improper cash bonuses for tackles that injured opponents. The lawsuits sought to have the punishment handed down by Goodell thrown out. The arbitration ruling renders the lawsuits moot at this point.
A team source previously told ESPN's Ed Werder that Vilma planned to attend Sunday's season opener against the Washington Redskins, but believed he was at least a week or two from being ready to play because of a knee injury.
Edited by Warren2ThaG, September 07, 2012 - 12:15 PM.