Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has issued a ruling regarding the the player suspension appeals in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty case. After current commissioner Roger Goodell recused himself from the situation, Tagliabue maintained that the League’s findings against Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith, and Jonathan Vilma were factual but rescinded the suspensions set fourth upon them.
Tagliabue affirms factual findings of Commissioner Goodell…concludes Hargrove, Smith, Vilma “engaged in conduct detrimental” and…
— Greg Aiello (@gregaiello) December 11, 2012
Here’s Tagliabue’s statement via NFL PR head Greg Aiello’s Twitter page:
“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).”
But what about Scott Fujita who is now with the Cleveland Browns? Things were a little better for him in Tagliabue’s findings and perhaps a little more detrimental to the League. According to Tagliabue (via USA Today), the former commissioner found no basis for Roger Goodell to discipline Fujita since the linebacker didn’t engage in “conduct detrimental to the league,” as Goodell had declared.
“Given that it is undisputed that Fujita did not participate in the Program including cartoffs and knockouts, and that his participation in a “non-injury” pay-for-performance pool is typically subject only to club discipline, I find that his actions here were not conduct detrimental and vacate his suspension.”
Fujita wasn’t available for comment however his agent did mention that his client will investigate the possibility of taking legal action against the league.
So essentially what Tagliabue states is a bounty program did exist within the Saints’ organization and that the players mentioned (except Fujita) did take part in it. However given the findings and the old notion that everything rolls down hill, it was guys like Sean Peyton and Mickey Loomis who were most responsible. Obviously not good news for them.