If it seems like this whole Bounty-Gate scandal involving the New Orleans Saints has been going on forever, well—that's because it has. Now it looks like the whole mess will take a giant leap towards actually being complete.
Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who was specially appointed by Roger Goodell to hear the appeals from the four accused players, has said that he will be issuing his decision sometime on today. That will likely not be the end of it with Judge Helen Berrigan expected to issue her ruling within a week of Tagliabue's announcement.
It's hard to tell how Tagliabue is going to rule, but since the league actually offered the players a last minute settlement offer, it would appear that the league is not too confident in its case. According to reports printed in several sources, the league offered reduced suspensions to Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita, and Anthony Hargrove in exchange for an admission of guilt.
If the league had any inclination to settle for the sake of settling it would have done so months ago. The fact that it is doing so now gives the appearance that they are not sure that Tagliabue or Judge Berrigan are going to rule in their favor. There is no other reason for them to make any offer at this point in the proceedings other than to try and save face.
That's understandable since there has not appeared to be too much evidence that directly implicates any of the players. Any evidence that the league has released has been sketchy at best. Several times the league has claimed that they were told things by certain players and/or coaches only to have those claims refuted by that same person in the media.
The coaches have to be kicking themselves a little bit for accepting their punishment so easy with the success that the players have had in fighting it.
Much of the trouble that the Saints have had this season could have been avoided were it not for this case and the league's rush to judgment. Perhaps if the league had exercised due diligence at first this whole mess could have been avoided and the proper people punished a long time ago.