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Fitzgerald: Feel bad for suspended Saints, but Goodell had to act

larryfitzgeraldsaints Getty Images

Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald can sympathize with NFL players who are suspended. But that doesn’t mean he thinks the NFL is wrong to do it.

Fitzgerald said on the Rich Eisen Podcast that he feels badly for the Saints players who were suspended as a result of the league’s investigation into bounties. But he doesn’t think the league could sit by and do nothing when it learned of the Saints’ bounty program.

“I’ve known Jonathan Vilma for a very long time, and Will Smith actually hosted me on my visit to Ohio State in college,” Fitzgerald said. “So I’ve known these guys for a really long time and they’re not bad men by any stretch of the imagination. I feel bad that they’re losing game checks and losing the opportunity to make a living. But I think Roger Goodell, our commissioner, had to do something to let everybody know that this is not going to be tolerated, and moving forward this is not something that’s going to be acceptable.”

We’ve heard a lot of extreme reactions to the bounty scandal and the subsequent suspensions, but Fitzgerald’s reaction is one of the most reasonable. You can feel badly for Vilma that he’s losing a year of his NFL career while also understanding why Goodell had to do what he did.

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46 Responses to “Fitzgerald: Feel bad for suspended Saints, but Goodell had to act”
  1. joetoronto says: May 9, 2012 6:55 AM

    What a game it would be if they could all have the attitude Fitz has.

  2. seatownballers says: May 9, 2012 7:00 AM

    I completely agree

  3. 1122world says: May 9, 2012 7:06 AM

    And that’s it in a nutshell.
    Godell had a harder time with it in reprimanding the players as opposed to the coaches.
    The coaches were the ones that lied to him in the face and they also had all the power to lean on players.
    You can not blame the soldiers here but Godell has no choice if any of what he is doing now will have a lasting effect on the league in the future.
    Players deserve and have a good chance in getting their suspensions reduced. Coaches should have to eat this cake.

  4. jrfrom508 says: May 9, 2012 7:10 AM

    Ehhh I don’t know. Roger went too far, I think. One man should not have the power to make these decisions. Especially someone who’s clearly abusing it…. Roger Putin

  5. bigwinintx says: May 9, 2012 7:16 AM

    Finally some one with a clear and rational thought on this mess.

    He didn’t throw the boys under the bus and he didn’t scream about the commish is the “devil”, he just flat out gave an honest opinion.

  6. robf2010 says: May 9, 2012 7:16 AM

    “Fitzgerald’s reaction is one of the most reasonable”

    Because he agrees with you? Vilma was flagged and/or fined for everything he did on the field. A year without pay for something he did off of the field is excessive, especially if the evidence against him is the word of a handful of anonymous disgruntleds.

  7. blsdwnstr says: May 9, 2012 7:28 AM

    Actually, I don’t think it is a sensible argument at all. They were suspended for doing something that, to this point anyway, has yet to be proven. Now if the point the Commissioner is making is that the players committed a heinous act that was never followed through on then the penalties are asymmetrical to the supposed crime. That is to suggest, the pay for injury system never produced any injurious behavior on the part of the suspended players. There is no evidence to suggest the Saints, and by extension the suspended players, did anything that can be pointed to as a “cart off”. There is still to this point no evidence that players were paid by Vilma or Fujita or Will Smith. Again, there is no evidence to suggest any action / s on the part of the players in any way was outside the normative nature of NFL football.

    So no, Fitz is not making a reasonable argument. He is making a fallacious one that is backed by compliments so as not to look like a jerk to the vast majority of players who do NOT believe the players did anything wrong (not all players feel this way, but the vast majority that have voiced an opinion on the matter are against the league).

  8. blsdwnstr says: May 9, 2012 7:30 AM

    robf2010 says: May 9, 2012 7:16 AM

    “Fitzgerald’s reaction is one of the most reasonable”

    Because he agrees with you? Vilma was flagged and/or fined for everything he did on the field. A year without pay for something he did off of the field is excessive, especially if the evidence against him is the word of a handful of anonymous disgruntleds.

    You said it better than me……

  9. 1956giants says: May 9, 2012 7:53 AM

    Mike et al,

    It does NOT matter what has gone on throughout the history of the NFL; it does not matter that EVERYONE does it and they were the ones to get caught.

    The whole point of all of this was that they were told to STOP a few years ago. They chose not to. THAT’s what they are getting punished for. PERIOD!

    What part of that do people not understand?

  10. staugslugga says: May 9, 2012 8:01 AM

    Every day someone comes out and says something that damns the NFL’s case.

    Now it’s Cris Carter.

    You ppl need to take your rose colored glasses off and realize that natural selection works it’s magic every football game, and your favorite players take part in these kind of acts and prob things that are worse.

    The penalties are too harsh, what’s so hard to understand?

  11. blondebombr says: May 9, 2012 8:07 AM

    Goodell is the boss, hired by the 32 owners.

    Complaining that he has too much power is like saying the boss of a business has too much power.

    If you’re a Saints fan and you think his unilateral powers are too much for one man to possess, well, that’s like a manager of a McDonald’s, hired by the owner to run the store, firing an employee and the employee’s family & friend’s say ‘this manager has far too much power.’

    Whatever you think of him (I personally think he’s doing a pretty good job) Goodell is the boss. The NFL is a business, not a government. 32 men own it, and employ 1 person to run it.

    So it isn’t like Putin. It isn’t a dictatorship. Like any employed CEO, Goodell is answerable to the owners of the business (his bosses).

    If he abuses his powers and oversteps the job he was hired to do, he will be replaced.

    He runs the business on their behalf. So when he suspends Vilma for a year, it’s not like a dictator doing it, it’s like a hired CEO doing it on behalf of 32 stakeholders.

  12. scottieplongballs says: May 9, 2012 8:15 AM

    Vilma is playing little word/legal games. He put forward money to try to physically hurt players beyond the normal risk of playing in the NFL. You do anything parallel to that at another company and your fired! I hope just one player in the NFL in a couple years still takes exception to that, probably someone that felt targeted, and blows out his knee. There is his punishment!

  13. geauxjay says: May 9, 2012 8:23 AM

    Nobody has seen the evidence. Except the league office and a lawyer paid by the NFL.

    (cue the fans of teams who are all butthurt because the Saints have a Lombardi Trophy and their team doesn’t with a thumbs down)

  14. okeedokeesmokee says: May 9, 2012 8:50 AM

    I bet he’d feel a hellva lot diffrent if they had put a bounty on his butt! He’d be just like Kurt Warner whineing and crying and needing his diaper changed! Theres always a flip side to every coin! Hes a good player and a good guy(Fitzgerald) but hes no diffrent than anybody else. If he’d been bounty hunted during his games he would be screaming for retribution!

  15. bass1717 says: May 9, 2012 8:54 AM

    Goodwill had to lay down the law with this issue…..what these players/coaches were doing was disgusting (deliberately going for head shots and ACLs)……I hope these guys do not win any appeals and suffer the consequences of their actions…..good job Roger!!

  16. packhawk04 says: May 9, 2012 8:54 AM

    How can he think roger did the right thing? This was an nfl conspiracy out to get the saints from day one. The saints never did anything wrong. Williams and payton were coerced into their confessions, they nfl created an audiotape of williams saying things he never said, and vilma is just an innocent man.

  17. treesloth16 says: May 9, 2012 8:54 AM

    Agree with Robf2010. Show the evidence on the field, or there’s no proof of executing the pay to injure bounty.

  18. deertay says: May 9, 2012 8:58 AM

    I’ve been a Saints fan all my life,but some of these fans are seriously alienating themselves. The organization got caught. Man up and take the punishments.

  19. billsfan1 says: May 9, 2012 9:07 AM

    Imagine that. Another article showing you flip flop sides. So what is it? Was the the league right in punishing them or not? Unsure ? Wait a day to change your mind

  20. gadgetdawg says: May 9, 2012 9:09 AM

    Because he agrees with you? Vilma was flagged and/or fined for everything he did on the field. A year without pay for something he did off of the field is excessive, especially if the evidence against him is the word of a handful of anonymous disgruntleds.
    ——————————-

    No, it is reasonable because he sees and sympathies with both sides. He is not a rabid Saints fan who believes the NFL suddenly started to hate them and is trying to destroy them. He is also not a Saints hater who is obviously happy to see them thumped regardless of circumstances.

    Unlike most folks (especially on sports blogs) he has taken what little info that has come out and formed a non extreme opinion. That should be commended because it is kinda rare with this story.

  21. winningisabrees says: May 9, 2012 9:13 AM

    Only players commenting on “bounties” are offensive players. Hmmmm?

  22. bigjdve says: May 9, 2012 9:17 AM

    At the end of the day Goodell had to make an example. It is unfortunate that the 4 Saint’s players got nailed when there are alot of other players that do it, however he needed to show all people involved that coaches and players would be held to the same standard.

    Which is something that people have nailed him for before, having different standards.

    Make no mistake, both the players and coaches lied to the commissioner’s office. That is why the penalties have been excessive. Whenever people have tried to hide or mislead Goodell he has dropped the hammer.

    For all of those that keep talking about how Goodell is such a bad guy, remember that.

  23. joshuavkidd says: May 9, 2012 9:20 AM

    I am of the group of people who think the game is being taken down the wrong road when it comes to this over-reaction to the games safety, However, I have no problem with how Goodell acted esp having watched the mockery that is the NHL when it comes to handing out punishment. I’d rather the punishment actually be a deterrent, than just another joke among the players. You can’t lie to the people who employ you and you can’t pay for performance when its strictly forbidden in the rules. Rather someone get made and example of, then to have it just brushed aside.

  24. dublindemonszfl says: May 9, 2012 9:23 AM

    I feel bad the Saints are to stupid to listen to the NFL when they are told to stop. If they would have PFT would actually be talking about football instead of paper towels.

  25. cooklynn17 says: May 9, 2012 9:26 AM

    People need to relax, if any ordinary working person did something this despicable at their place of employment, they would be fired.

    Saints players are lucky they have a job to come back too. Enough of the Saints love fest. Take it like men and accept it and move on. Guys do drugs, commit crimes and even murder people (allegedly, Ray Lewis). And these men are all still in the league, when again, ordinary people would have been shown the door.

    Stop complaining about the commissioner already. The players could have voted to change the amount of power he is given, but failed to do so in the new CBA, its on them.

  26. hamcamnewton says: May 9, 2012 9:26 AM

    “I feel bad that they’re losing game checks and losing the opportunity to make a living.”

    _____

    I hate when players say something like that.. They act like they’re living paycheck to paycheck and would starve without a game check. Get real fellas you SHOULD be okay missing out on a few..

  27. johanneschimpo says: May 9, 2012 9:50 AM

    There are two prominent Fitzgeralds in the NFL, you know.

    You wouldn’t title the blog entry – Johnson: Feel bad for suspended Saints, but Goodell had to act

  28. daknight93 says: May 9, 2012 10:17 AM

    well, all players have appealed and are practicing with their teams in hopes to play this season until appeals are heard for final verdict…

  29. geo1113 says: May 9, 2012 10:26 AM

    treesloth16 says:
    May 9, 2012 8:54 AM
    Agree with Robf2010. Show the evidence on the field, or there’s no proof of executing the pay to injure bounty.

    ————————–

    You don’t need that type of evidence. If I plan a murder that isn’t completed, I am guilty of conspiracy to commit murder which is a felony in my state (and probably all states) and I could go to jail.

  30. bayoubauer says: May 9, 2012 10:36 AM

    bigwinintx says:
    May 9, 2012 7:16 AM
    Finally some one with a clear and rational thought on this mess.

    He didn’t throw the boys under the bus and he didn’t scream about the commish is the “devil”, he just flat out gave an honest opinion.

    So, anyone who “screams about the commish”, or “throw the boys under the bus” is not “flat out giving an honest opinion”? Do you know even know what the definition of opinion is?

  31. dzor22 says: May 9, 2012 10:37 AM

    1,800 plaintiffs in a concussion lawsuit and the knuckleheads wonder why Goodell is being harsh and why shouldnt everyone just let the Saints do whatever they want? How stupid can some fans be?

  32. robf2010 says: May 9, 2012 10:39 AM

    “If I plan a murder that isn’t completed, I am guilty of conspiracy to commit murder”

    That test doesn’t always apply. If I plan to or even say I’m going to kick someone’s butt the next time I see them and I don’t kick their butt the next time I see them, I am not guilty of anything.

  33. Justin says: May 9, 2012 10:53 AM

    Good Minnesota boy right there. Just wish he wore purple but that doesn’t mean I won’t root for him.

  34. geauxjay says: May 9, 2012 11:04 AM

    1,800 plaintiffs in a concussion lawsuit and the knuckleheads wonder why Goodell is being harsh and why shouldnt everyone just let the Saints do whatever they want? How stupid can some fans be?

    _______________________________

    Please. Please. Please. Tell me what they did. Tell me what you or the NFL can prove that they done.

  35. geo1113 says: May 9, 2012 11:05 AM

    robf2010 says:
    May 9, 2012 10:39 AM
    That test doesn’t always apply. If I plan to or even say I’m going to kick someone’s butt the next time I see them and I don’t kick their butt the next time I see them, I am not guilty of anything.

    ———————

    I should have been more clear. If I plan with someone else. And that is exactly what a bounty. You tell someone else you will pay them to commit an act.

  36. saints4evah says: May 9, 2012 11:13 AM

    Had to act? Give me strength.
    This is a farce. A dark comedy.
    To fabricate this level of outrage is beyond the pale. Goodell must go.

  37. saints4evah says: May 9, 2012 11:16 AM

    hey bass1717
    Please give me a link to back up your claims that a player ever took a dirty shot at a head or an acl…Since you know so much about what was going on, maybe you have the 50,000 pages of evidence that GODell seems to have lost.
    Link us dirty Saints fans up to your evidence would ya there sporto?

  38. jusjamn says: May 9, 2012 11:40 AM

    Tired of automatic appeals every time ANY discipline is handed down.

    If appeal is turned down, they should automatically double the fine/suspension for wasting everyone’s time.

  39. rafafm says: May 9, 2012 11:53 AM

    @Saints4evah is right they never hit anyone dirty. Just watch the saints seahawks playoff game. They couldn’t tackle anyone.

  40. robf2010 says: May 9, 2012 12:00 PM

    “I should have been more clear. If I plan with someone else. And that is exactly what a bounty. You tell someone else you will pay them to commit an act.”

    They also planned to “kill the head and the body will die”. Clearly, THAT was hyperbole. Who is to say what the rest of it was? You? The league? Maybe the players who were in the room who knew the man and saw the body language? None of it was carried out. At the end of GW’s speech, he said “Don’t go over the line and don’t hurt the team”. That was probably hyperbole, too, but I just don’t think it’s a good idea to judge a team by the pre-game pep talks, their sideline banter, or the things they say on the poractice field or in the locker room.

  41. rabidmike says: May 9, 2012 1:43 PM

    Yeah, we are pretty fond of Larry Jr. here in Arizona.

  42. nard100 says: May 9, 2012 2:37 PM

    You know what’s funny? How Saints fans can make sweeping statements and call them facts like:

    1. Everybody has a bounty program
    2. All the players agree with us
    3. When 2 isn’t true, it’s because they are suckup jerks

    If this is just the fictitious work of power-mad Goodell, then please explain the following:

    1. Why did the Saints let a SB winning DC go?
    2. Why didn’t GW appeal the NFL’s decision?
    3. Why did Hargrove sign an affidavit stating he was COACHED to make statements to NFL if there was no wrongdoing?
    4. Goodell works for the owners and not vice-versa, so why aren’t there more owners coming to Tom Benson’s defense?

  43. robf2010 says: May 9, 2012 3:15 PM

    “1. Why did the Saints let a SB winning DC go?”

    Because he’d pretty much worn out his welcome. He and Sean Payton were never very close.

    “2. Why didn’t GW appeal the NFL’s decision?”

    You’d have to ask him. Why DID everyone else?

    “3. Why did Hargrove sign an affidavit stating he was COACHED to make statements to NFL if there was no wrongdoing?”

    Why did he lie to them to begin with and why should anyone take his word now?

    “4. Goodell works for the owners and not vice-versa, so why aren’t there more owners coming to Tom Benson’s defense?”

    When was the last time you saw an owner do that?

  44. meandjuliojonesdownbytheschoolyard says: May 9, 2012 3:23 PM

    Amen Larry!!!

  45. drunkwino says: May 10, 2012 12:04 AM

    Scottieplongballs:

    Vilma is playing little word/legal games. He put forward money to try to physically hurt players beyond the normal risk of playing in the NFL.
    _____________________________________

    Except for the inconvenient truth that what you’re saying hasn’t been proven and the man is taking action to prove it, that is. The only thing that a reasonable person woukd consider proven is that there was a pay for performance not for injury system.
    _____________________________
    I hope just one player in the NFL in a couple years still takes exception to that, probably someone that felt targeted, and blows out his knee. There is his punishment!
    ___________________×_×____________________

    I’m just going to guess you have no idea what the term hypocrite means, you hypothetical jagoff.

  46. drunkwino says: May 10, 2012 12:16 AM

    Though, I do think what Larry Fritzgerald said is reasonable. Even if it’s proven beyond a doubt (for nomal people anyway,) that there was no injury bounty, it still doesn’t mean that a pay for performance pool is legal either. That certainly is worth punishing guys over. You can argue till you die whether or not the punishment went too far or not, but it doesn’t mean much unless Goodell decides to come back and change it to lighter punishments.

    …but, if you’re saying guys who appeal should get worse punishments, do us a favor. If you live in America, grab a plane and move somewhere more fitting to that sort of thinking. I suggest Iran or North Korea. You people are why we can’t have nice things here anymore.

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