'Bounty Gate' suspensions lifted

September 7, 2012, 9:23 pm
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A three-member appeals panel has overturned Roger Goodell's initial ruling to suspend current and former New Orleans Saints players as a result of "Bounty Gate."

Suspended players Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove will be reinstated and are available to play in Week 1 of the NFL season.

The ruling was reportedly lifted due to Goodell not having jurisdiction in players' appeals process.

Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter broke the news on Twitter:

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, 2012The NFL has issued a statement on the decision.

"Consistent with the panel's decision, Commissioner Goodell will, as directed, make an expedited determination of the discipline imposed for violating the league's pay-for-performancebounty rule. Until that determination is made the four players are reinstated and eligible to play starting this weekend."

The players were initially accused and suspended for putting bounties on players of opposing teams for vicious hits with the intention to injure.

Saints head coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams were both suspended, as well.