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Tagliabue Vacates Punishments for Saints Players

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue gave out his ruling on the Saints bounty scandal.

Tagliabue Vacates Punishments for Saints Players

In this article…

Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, appointed by Roger Goodell to hear the second round of appeals by the NFL players suspended for their role in "Bountygate," issued his ruling on said appeals yesterday.  Tagliabue vacated all discipline against the Saints players Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove, and Scott Fujita, for their part, but agreed on the findings by Goodell and placed a strong emphasis of organizational wrongdoing by the Saints coaches and staff.  Here is part of Tagliabue's statement that was shared on Twitter by NFL spokesman Greg Aiello:

Unlike Saints' broad organizational misconduct, player appeals involve sharply focused issues of alleged individual player misconduct in several different aspects ... My affirmation of Commissioner Goodell's findings could certainly justify the issuance of fines. However, this entire case has been contaminated by the coaches and others in the Saints' organization.

Having reviewed the testimony very carefully, including documentary evidence that is at the center of the conflict, and having assessed the credibility of the four central witnesses on these matters, I find there is more than enough evidence to support Commissioner Goodell's findings that Mr. Vilma offered such a bounty (on Brett Favre).

The ruling is a win and a loss for the Saints.  The players were obviously the big winners here. They didn't miss any time during the appeal process (except Fujita, who is on IR), their punishments were cleared, though Tagliabue still held firm that three of the four players (Fujita excluded) displayed conduct that could be fined.  But the loss goes to the Saints organization as a whole, as they were basically the ones that the whole mess got pinned on.  

So, Tagliabue's ruling gives to both sides in the argument (Goodell and the players).  Both the NFL and NFLPA seemed happy with the decision in their respective issued statements, so this whole, ugly mess should finally be put to rest.  The ramifications are still being experienced, but this might finally be behind us.  

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