NFL Suspends 4 in ‘Bountygate’

    FILE - In this Oct. 30 2011, file photo, New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma looks on from the sideline during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams in St. Louis.  Although the Saints went 3-0 while Vilma recovered from a left knee injury, the Saints are relieved to have their defensive captain back for the stretch run and were impressed by his 10-tackle performance against Detroit. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

    Seth Perlman / AP Photo

    Now that’s one way to send a message. The NFL came down hard on four football players for the New Orleans Saints’ “Bountygate” scandal, suspending linebacker Jonathan Vilma for all of the 2012 season. Three other players were banned for eight games, four games, and three games. From 2009 to 2011, the Saints used a bounty system to pay players cash bonuses for vicious hits aimed at opposing players. Aside from suspending coach Sean Payton for next season, the Saints were fined $500,000.

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