New York, NY (Sports Network) - Suspensions for the four players connected in the New Orleans Saints "bounty" scandal have been overturned by a collective bargaining agreement panel.
The ruling from the three-member panel on Friday will allow Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and free-agent defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove to start the year.
However, while the suspensions for the players were lifted shortly after the ruling, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can still suspend them if he can prove that there was an intent to injure.
"Victory is mine!!!! -stewie griffin," Vilma tweeted Friday.
Smith also tweeted: "Thank you to everyone involved in the process of this solution.. And everyone who supported us through this whole ordeal. #whodat."
Fujita and Hargrove played for New Orleans during the bounty program's duration from 2009-2011 under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who has been suspended indefinitely.
Vilma was originally banned for the entire 2012 regular season, Hargrove for eight games, Smith four contests and Fujita three tilts.
The suspensions of Williams, coach Sean Payton (season-long ban), general manager Mickey Loomis (eight games) and assistant head coach Joe Vitt (six games) were not involved in the appeals process.
The Sports Network