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The players all have appealed their suspensions. While none of the punished players has denied that the Saints ran a pay-for-performance pool similar to those run by other teams, they have denied that they ever pledged or received cash for injuring a targeted opponent.
Vilma also has filed a defamation lawsuit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.
The Saints also have been punished harshly as an organization, with head coach Sean Payton serving a suspension that began in April and runs until after the Super Bowl. General manager Mickey Loomis was suspended eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt, currently acting as head coach in Payton's absence, must serve a six-game suspension at the start of the regular season.
The team also was fined $500,000 and docked second-round draft picks this year and next, though the NFL has indicated the penalty for next year's draft could be reduced if the club continues to cooperate with the probe.
The NFL has said former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams ran a bounty program for three seasons from 2009 through 2011. Now with the St. Louis Rams, Williams has issued an apology and has been suspended indefinitely. Payton and Loomis also have issued apologies for not doing more to stop a program that Williams ran on their watch.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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