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Utica's Will Smith among NFL players suspended, he will appeal

By AP/nola.com/WKTV

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has been suspended without pay for the entire 2012 season by the NFL, one of four players punished for participating in a pay-for-pain bounty system.

Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, now with the Green Bay Packers, is suspended for eight games this season; Saints defensive end Will Smith is barred for four games; and linebacker Scott Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns, will miss three games.

All of the suspensions are without pay. All four players have three days to appeal.

An NFL investigation determined that the Saints had a bounty
system from 2009-11 that offered thousands of dollars to players for big hits that knocked opponents out of games.

Through the NFLPA, Smith released the following statement on his suspension Wednesday imposed by commissioner Roger Goodell. Smith is suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2012 regular season.

"I am disappointed the NFL has punished me with a four game suspension. I have never in my career, nor as a Captain asked others, to intentionally target and hurt specific opposing players. I was in no way involved in establishing or assisting Gregg Williams with implementing a bounty program. The accusations made against me are completely and one-hundred percent false, and I plan to appeal the decision along with the help of the NFL Players Association. Through this entire process, the NFL never notified me of what I was being accused of, nor presented me with any evidence or reasoning for this decision. I am interested in discovering who is making these specific and false accusations, and as well as why a decision was made without speaking with me and giving me the opportunity to review the facts. I am going to work with my union to clear my name and returning to the game I love and respect. Thank you to our fans for the continued support."

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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