(NEW ORLEANS) — Four NFL players had their suspensions lifted by a three-member appeals panel on Friday.
Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith of the New Orleans Saints, Scott Fujita of the Cleveland Browns, and free agent Anthony Hargrove are all eligible to play in week one of the regular season after the league reinstated all four players Friday afternoon.
The panel said commissioner Roger Goodell did not have the jurisdiction to hear the players’ appeals of their punishment for their roles in the Saints bounty program that paid cash bonuses for hits that injured their opponents.
The NFL released a statement, saying, “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-performance/bounty rule. Until that determination is made, the four players are reinstated and eligible to play starting this weekend.”
The panel’s decision only affects the players. Coaches Sean Payton, Gregg Williams, and Joe Vitt will remain suspended.
The Saints open up their season on Sunday at home against the Washington Redskins. The Browns are home against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
John Newsome and Anne Woolsey, CNN