AP source: Tagliabue bounty ruling coming today
Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue will rule Tuesday afternoon on the latest round of player appeals in the NFL's bounty probe, and any potential punishment will be delayed by a week, a person familiar with the decision said.
The delay is designed to give a federal judge in New Orleans the opportunity to rule on pending motions to throw out the suspensions and remove Tagliabue as the appointed arbitrator for the player appeals to the league, said the person, who spoke to The Associated Press Monday on condition of anonymity because no rulings have been announced.
The NFL's decision to delay potential sanctions for four current or former Saints also means linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith may play Sunday when New Orleans hosts Tampa Bay.
If the sanctioned players find Tagliabue's decision palatable, that could finally bring the bounty saga to an end more than nine months after the NFL first made public its probe of New Orleans' cash-for-hits program. If not, it will be up to U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan to disqualify Tagliabue or let his ruling stand.
Current and former Saints players and coaches have acknowledged the existence of a performance pool that rewarded key defensive plays including hard, legal tackles, but have denied organizing or participating in a program designed to intentionally injure opponents.
If Vilma, Smith, Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove get the ruling they seek, it would discredit an NFL probe - overseen by Commissioner Roger Goodell - which covered three seasons and gathered about 50,000 pages of documents.
The probe concluded that Vilma and Smith were ring-leaders of a cash-for-hits program that rewarded injurious tackles labeled as "cart-offs" and "knockouts."
The NFL also concluded that Hargrove lied to NFL investigators to help cover up the program.
None of the players have served a game of their suspensions yet and are allowed to play while appeals are pending. Shortly before the regular season, the initial suspensions were vacated by an appeal panel created by the league's collective bargaining agreement. Goodell then reissued them with some modifications.
Vilma received full-season suspension, while Smith was docked four games. Hargrove initially received an eight game suspension that was later trimmed to seven games, but for practical purposes, was reduced to two games because he was given credit for five games he missed as a free agent after being cut by Green Bay before the regular season opener. Fujita had his initial suspension reduced from three games to one, with the league saying that he failed in his duty as a defensive leader to discourage the bounty program run by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Goodell also suspended Williams indefinitely, while banning Saints head coach Sean Payton for a full season. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis got an eight-game ban and Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt served six games.
49ers suspend Brandon Jacobs
The San Francisco 49ers suspended running back Brandon Jacobs on Monday for the final three games following a series of posts on social media sites addressing his lack of playing time, including one during the weekend saying he was "on this team rotting away."
The 49ers made the announcement about two hours after coach Jim Harbaugh's news conference, but provided no explanation for why Jacobs had been disciplined. It is doubtful he would return for the playoffs.
Harbaugh declined to address Jacobs' comments, even when asked whether Jacobs was still on the team. He said he was invoking his "fifth amendment" right.
The 30-year-old Jacobs has five carries for 7 yards while playing in only two games with the NFC West-leading Niners (9-3-1). He spent his first seven NFL seasons with the New York Giants and has called this his "worst" year - though he knew he was joining a crowded backfield that features three-time Pro Bowler Frank Gore as one of the faces of the franchise.
In recent days, he posted a series of photos of himself playing for the Giants - and even a picture of his two Super Bowl championship rings, side by side.
"I am on this team rotting away so why would I wanna put any pics up of anything that say niners," Jacobs said in an Instagram post Saturday. "This is by far the worst year I ever had, I'll tell you like I told plenty others."
On Twitter later, Jacobs said: "I don't understand why people are angry at me because I wanna do what I am paid to do, I am a competitive person, I think people should be mad if I didn't wanna play. ... As for all of my Instagram photos I don't have any niner pics, if you'll find me some pics I'll put them up."
Jacobs, hampered by a left knee injury earlier this season, spends approximately 20 minutes before games punching the goal-post padding. He has said it is his way of dealing with the situation.
Last month, Jacobs posted advice on Twitter with a reference to never working "in a place where you hate your boss so much, you should always be happy at work" with a hash tag of "YouLiveAndYouLearn."
His post came the same day Harbaugh was hospitalized for a minor procedure for an irregular heartbeat.
Slumping Ravens fire Cameron
Cam Cameron has been fired as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, who have lost two straight and are still striving for consistency in the running and passing game.
Cameron ran the team's offense since the start of the 2008 season, when current coach Jim Harbaugh replaced Brian Billick. Since that time, the Ravens' attack has repeatedly taken a back seat to the team's defense.
The move came Monday.
Jim Caldwell, who was hired as quarterbacks coach before the season, will assume Cameron's duties. Caldwell was head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2009-11.
Baltimore (9-4) scored seven points after halftime Sunday in a 31-28 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins. Quarterback Joe Flacco passed for only 182 yards, lost a fumble and was intercepted in the third quarter.
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