Roger Goodell is sticking to his guns. He upheld the season long suspension of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith's 4 game suspension. He reduced Anthony Hargrove's suspension from 8 to 7 games, and Scott Fujita's from 3 to 1.
Here's why he can do this: The suspensions were vacated by an appeals panel, but not based on their merit. It was a technical thing. The panel required Goodell to clarify how the players acted in a way "detrimental to the League."
Goodell has the power to suspend any player for such "detrimental" conduct. And he clarified the conduct using a Saints/Panthers game from 2010 as an example (story on ESPN.com).
Essentially, the appeal panel asked Goodell for details of the bounty program, and Goodell has disclosed some of them.
Vilma can still pursue his defamation lawsuit. Though it will be tough for him to prove that Goodell has been deceptive or has said anything false about Vilma.
Roger Goodell is a bit of a tyrant. He's not a mass murderer. So stop with the Hitler/Stalin types of comparisons, please. You sound like a fool when comparing an NFL Commissioner to someone who killed millions. Goodell's job requires some light tyranny. Sometimes it works (getting a deal done with the NFLPA last year), sometimes it doesn't (replacement refs).
Whatever you think about Goodell, the Saints broke the rules. While being investigated, they continued to break the rules. The coaches who broke them implicated Vilma as being one of the leading players in the bounty program.
Why shouldn't he get punished? Players putting up $10k bounties to injure other players is conduct detrimental to the League. At least it is in my opinion. It can't be tolerated.