Detail of the ball as the Kansas City Chiefs warm up prior to facing the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on November 14, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 49-29. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK - A former Kansas City Chief is among the four players suspended by the NFL in connection with the Saints bounty scandal.
Scott Fujita, who played in Kansas City from 2002 to 2004, will sit out three games for his role in the scandal.
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, the captain of the Saints' defense, got the worst of the punishment and will sit out the entire 2012 season.
Other players who were suspended include now-Packer Anthony Hargrove (8 games) and Will Smith (4 games). All four players have three days to appeal.
"It is the obligation of everyone, including the players on the field, to ensure that rules designed to promote player safety, fair play, and the integrity of the game are adhered to and effectively and consistently enforced," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement announcing the suspensions. "Respect for the men that play the game starts with the way players conduct themselves with each other on the field."
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.
Fujita has played the last two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, but was with the Saints from 2007 to 2009.
According to the NFL investigation, Fujita, "pledged a significant amount of money to the prohibited pay-for-performance/bounty pool during the 2009 NFL playoffs when he played for the Saints."
The NFL says Vilma helped defensive coordinator Greg Williams establish and fund the bounty program and offered specific $10,000 rewards for anyone who could knock out Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner from the 2009 divisional playoff game and Packers quarterback Brett Favre from the 2009 NFC championship game.
Each of the four players suspended Wednesday met one or more of six criteria Goodell deemed implicated they had a “higher degree of responsibility” in the bounty program.
"In assessing player discipline," Goodell said, "I focused on players who were in leadership positions at the Saints; contributed a particularly large sum of money toward the program; specifically contributed to a bounty on an opposing player; demonstrated a clear intent to participate in a program that potentially injured opposing players; sought rewards for doing so; and/or obstructed the 2010 investigation."
The Associated Press Contributed to this Report
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