Paul Tagliabue Rules To Vacate All Saints “Bounty” Suspensions
Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has vacated "all player discipline" in the bounty case against the New Orleans Saints. However, Tagliabue claims that current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's findings proved that Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith, and Jonathan Vilma “engaged in conduct detrimental.”
Essentially, the blame has been placed on the Saints coaching staff and management.
"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.”
The NFL released the following statement in regards to Tagliabue's decision.
"We respect Mr. Tagliabue’s decision, which underscores the due process afforded players in NFL disciplinary matters. This matter has now been reviewed by Commissioner Goodell, two CBA grievance arbitrators, the CBA Appeals Panel, and Mr. Tagliabue as Commissioner Goodell’s designated appeals officer. The decisions have made clear that the Saints operated a bounty program in violation of league rules for three years, that the program endangered player safety, and that the commissioner has the authority under the CBA to impose discipline for those actions as conduct detrimental to the league. Strong action was taken in this matter to protect player safety and ensure that bounties would be eliminated from football."
If that's all true, then why completely vacate the punishments?
"Congratulations to our players for having the suspensions vacated. Unfortunately, there are some things that can never be taken back."
Brees' tweet echoes what most Saints fans are feeling right now.