An appeals panel has overturned the suspensions handed down to four New Orleans Saints players following an alleged bounty program on the field, according to Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated.
Trotter tweeted on Friday:
BREAKING: A 3-member appeals panel has overturned the player suspensions in the Saints bounty case, says a source. Details coming.— Jim Trotter (@SI_JimTrotter) September 7, 2012
One of the Saints players under suspension, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, was noticeably happy, doing his best Stewie Griffin impersonation from Family Guy.
Victory is mine!!!! -stewie griffin— Jonathan Vilma (@JonVilma51) September 7, 2012
What does it mean for the Saints?
It means, as ESPN reported, that Vilma and defensive end Will Smith are allowed to play against the Washington Redskins on Sunday in Week 1, via Jacques Doucet of WAFB-Louisiana.
It also means linebacker Scott Fujita and defensive end Anthony Hargrove are permitted to play, although Smith has the best chance of seeing the field.
As for head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis, they will still serve their suspensions because there is no coach or GM union, per Peter King of Sports Illustrated.
The lifting of the players' suspensions, of course, is a huge win for the Saints organization. The Saints, who went 13-3 and captured the NFC South last season before losing in the divisional playoffs to the San Francisco 49ers, get back some key players, in Week 1 no less.
When the Saints go marching into the 2012-2013 NFL season.