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NFL Turns Over Evidence Of Bounty Program

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell

The NFL turned over some evidence to the four players suspended for the Saints’ bounty program, but lawyers for the players said Friday they are seeking more information.

Current Saints linebacker jonathan Vilma  and defensive end Will Smith, Green Bay defensive end Anthony Hargrove and Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita will have their appeals heard Monday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“We have followed the procedures set forth in the CBA on appeals of commissioner discipline,” league spokesman Greg Aiello said.

An NFL investigation found that the New Orleans Saints operated a bounty system rewarding between 22 and 27 players for hard hits and injuring opposing players.

Those procedures include the parties exchanging “copies of any exhibits upon which they intend to rely no later than three calendar days prior to the hearing,” Aiello added.

Evidence presented included some 200 pages of documents, with emails, power-point presentations, even hand-written notes, plus one video recording. But a ledger that reportedly documents payments of $1,000 for plays called “cart-offs” and $400 for “whacks,” as well as $100 fines for mental errors, was not in the material.

Vilma has been suspended for the 2012 season, while Smith got four games. Hargrove was suspended for eight games and Fujita for three.

Previously, Goodell suspended Saints coach Sean Payton for the season and assistant coach Joe Vitt for six games. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis got eight games, while former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams — who has apologized for his role in the scandal — was suspended indefinitely.

Vilma’s lawyers, Peter Ginsberg, said the evidence the league provided did little more than reflect Williams’ approach to firing up his players.

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