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.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's ruling was announced Wednesday.
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.
By HOWARD FENDRICH AP Pro Football Writer
The Associated Press