On Tuesday, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturned the suspensions of four current and former New Orleans Saints players stemming from the team's bounty scandal. Tagliabue ruled that while there was definitely a pay-for-play system going on inside the team from 2009-2011, he placed more blame on the coaches inside the organization more than the players following orders.
Tagliabue said, "coaches and managers led a deliberate, unprecedented and effective effort to obstruct the NFL's investigation.
"Unlike Saints' broad organizational misconduct, player appeals involve sharply focused issues of alleged individual player misconduct in several different aspects," Tagliabue continued in a statement. "My affirmation of Commissioner (Roger) 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 handed down a season-long suspension for linebacker Jonathan Vilma before the season began for his role in the program that paid players for making key plays, including injury-inflicting hits. He also gave an eight-game suspension to former Saints defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove, a four-game suspension to defensive end Will Smith, and a three-game suspension to former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita.
In his ruling, Tagliabue cleared Fujita of conduct detrimental to the league.
This is way above the world of fantasy football, but it's still a huge story, one that I hope is just about over. However, Vilma did say after the ruling that he still plans to push forward with his defamation lawsuit against Goodell. The suspensions for head coach Sean Payton and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams -- the ringleader in this whole thing -- stand.