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Tagliabue Vacates 'Bountygate' Suspensions, Thereby Making Everything Even More Confusing

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I'll say this right off the bat: This entire NFL "bountygate" scandal has been confusing. Frustratingly confusing, actually.

And now that former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has issued his ruling on the matter, in theory bringing some closure this mess, the confusion has only continued.

Tagliabue, tapped by current commissioner Roger Goodell to handle a second round of appeals by the four New Orleans Saints players implicated in the scandal, announced on Tuesday that he was vacating those players suspensions--even though he concluded that the players did, in fact, engage in conduct detrimental to the league.

In a statement explaining his somewhat muddled ruling, Tagliabue seemed to hint that the entire Saints organization, not the players, was really to blame for the scandal. Hence his decision to drop the suspensions. I guess.

Said Tagliabue: "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."

Goodell did not respond to the ruling, but the league issued a statement indicating that it respected Tagliabue's conclusion. That decision, the league said, "underscores the due process afforded players in NFL disciplinary matters." The league then went on to reiterate once more that, yes, the scandal did happen and, yes, the team did do some bad stuff and, yes, the league needed to respond in a big way. Which is why they did so.

As for the players involved?

Well, already, the attorney for linebacker Jonathan Vilma has indicated that he might pursue a defamation lawsuit against the league. Because, you know, Vilma still says he didn't do anything wrong. Which is kind of what Tagliabue has hinted at by vacating those suspensions. But, yeah, again, the league still says this thing happened.

Like I said, it's confusing. And it's not over yet.- Tim Hyland

Photo: Getty Images


December 22, 2012 at 6:46 pm
(1) Mark Parson says:

This is very interesting and I was actually searching on the Internet for something dealing with Corner back information but since I have seen it I may as well comment. My name is Mark Parson, I played with the Saints for those years of “Bountygate” If people understood how things really were they would just know that it was part of the game.

First off the coach didn’t really want guys hurt, he was just trying to motivate guys to be stone cold “killers” on the field between the whistles. He always said play by the rules and never get penalties. Hit the guy so hard that he didn’t want to play anymore. Now I know as well as everybody else that illegal is illegal so guys can get in trouble but they took it too far.

Also we as players do as we are told, so why in the world would you suspend players for following orders which were be the most ruthless defense in the league which is supposed to be the way in football anyways right? Football will soon start putting skirts on the offensive players, I can see it in the future.

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