Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was appointed by current commish Roger Goodell to handle the appeals of the four players implicated in the Saints' bounty gate. Tagliabue vacated all the suspensions, but agreed that the players did engage in a pay-for-pain scheme. And we all thought the Jets were the biggest circus in the NFL.
Here's the gist of Tagliabue's statement:
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.
Basically, yes, the players were doing something that they shouldn't have been doing, but since the whole thing became a shit show, they're just going to let bygones be bygones. Well played. That doesn't seem like a giant waste of time at all. Not to mention the games they did miss and their reputations being dragged through the mud.
Taglibue's statement, released by the NFL, went a little further.
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).
Despite that, Vilma's attorney told NFL.com that he's glad his client has been cleared of 'manufactured allegations.' Huh? They just said Vilma absolutely offered a bounty.
It doesn't matter because the suspensions were overturned, and the players in question were allowed to play during the appeals. Also, the Saints have the last ranked defense in the NFL right now. What a mess.