Players Suspensions Vacated in Saints Bounty Gate Scandal
“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,” said a portion of the ruling released by the NFL.
He added that there was evidence that Vilma offered a bounty on then-Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in the NFC championship game in Jan., 2010.
“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 NFL’s statement on Tagliabue’s findings reads. “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.” – nydailynews
Tagliabue cleared Fujita of conduct detrimental to the league.
“I affirm Commissioner Goodell’s factual findings as to the four players. I conclude that Hargrove, Smith and Vilma — but not Fujita — engaged in ‘conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football,’ “ the ruling said.
“However, for the reasons set forth in this decision, I now vacate all discipline to be imposed upon these players. Although I vacate all suspensions, I fully considered but ultimately rejected reducing the suspensions to fines of varying degrees for Hargrove, Smith and Vilma. 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,” it said. – espn
Four current and former New Orleans Saints’ players suspensions have been vacated (by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue) from the lingering Bount Gate Scandal. Tagliabue was hired by current NFL Comissioner Roger Goodell to handle the appeals in the case. Tagliabue lifted four of the players suspensions, but still found that three players engaged in conduct detrimental to the league, and stressed the significance of the coaches involvement. The sudden move may seem contradictory to the initial severe penalty, but the case has been lingering for over a year now, and “the entire case had been contaminated by the coaches and others in the Saints organization”. Read the initial ruling by Paul Tagliabue, and the statement released from the NFL above!
The four players who had their suspensions lifted include: Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (pic above) who had a full one-year suspension, and Saints defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove each had shorter suspensions. Tagliabue believes that Fujita is innocent, but still believes the other three are guilty in the case; check out Tagliabue’s ruling above!
In other NFL news, the NY Jets officially re-signed free agent WR Braylon Edwards off waivers and the Jets delighted Newark kids at a charity carnival yesterday!