Suspended New Orleans Saints Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith and former Saints Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita may have caught a break thanks to text message from former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, among the evidence the NFL relied on to deliver the suspensions was a series of emails from head coach Sean Payton's friend Mike Ornstein, offering bounties for big hits. However, Ornstein — who sent the emails from prison — has tried to argue that his emails were intended as jokes, not to be taken seriously.
Williams sent Ornstein a text that reportedly read, "I stood up for you & told them just that. I told them we never took that [stuff] serious. I never ever saw you ever give $ and that's just the truth."
Vilma, Smith, Hargrove and Fujita will likely use the text as evidence when they appeal their suspensions in front of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday in New York. Vilma was suspended for the entire 2012 season, while Hargrove, now with the Packers, received eight games. Smith was given four games, while Fujita, now with the Browns, received a three-game ban.