Paul Tagliabue overturns Saints suspensions
In a rebuke of Roger Goodell, his predecessor as NFL commissioner, Wholesale Jerseys Paul Tagliabue vacated the suspensions of four players involved in a bounty scandal that has roiled the New Orleans Saints for more than nine months.
The Saints' participation in the 2010 NFC championship game against the Minnesota Vikings was a key component of the alleged bounty scheme.
Tagliabue, appointed by Goodell to handle a cheap nfl jerseys second round of player appeals after Goodell was forced to modify his original discipline, walked a tightrope in his rulings Tuesday, Dec. 12.
He affirmed Goodell's finding that a bounty program offering money for hits that knocked opponents from games did exist.
He also said that Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith engaged in conduct that was detrimental to the league and that Vilma offered a $10,000 bounty on Brett Favre, then quarterback of the Vikings, in the 2010 NFC championship game between Minnesota and New Orleans.
But Tagliabue, who interviewed players, coaches and other league personnel, shifted the Wholesale NFL Jerseys blame for the program almost entirely to the Saints, citing "broad organizational misconduct." He agreed with Goodell that senior Saints coaches "conceived, encouraged and directed" the bounty program and that coaches and managers Wholesale Jerseys china obstructed the NFL's investigation into the program.
Coach Sean Payton had previously been suspended for the 2012 season, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely, general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight games and interim head coach Joe Vitt was suspended for six games. Those punishments have stood.
Tagliabue exonerated former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, finding he had not engaged in conduct detrimental to the league because he did not participate in a program promoting "cartoff" and "knockout" hits.
Vilma, suspended by Goodell for the entire current season, and Smith, suspended four games, have been playing for the Saints while their appeals were pending. Fujita is on injured reserve; Hargrove is not with a team.
Tagliabue wrote that a "culture" existed in New Orleans that promoted tough talk and cash incentives for hits to injure opponents, including Favre.
But Tagliabue added there was "little evidence of the tone of any talk about a bounty before the Vikings game."
"Was any bounty pledged serious? Was it inspirational only? Was it typical 'trash talk' that occurs regularly before and during games? The parties presented no clear answers," Tagliabue wrote. "No witness could confirm whether Vilma had any money in his hands as he spoke; no evidence was presented that $10,000 was available to him for purposes of paying a bounty or otherwise."
Favre suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter of a 3128 overtime loss to New Orleans for the right to go to the Super Bowl.
Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who initially strongly criticized the Saints players allegedly involved in the bounty scheme, remained strongly opposed to the notion Tuesday. "If you're going to implement a bounty on someone, you shouldn't be playing football."
Regarding the overturning of the suspensions, Kluwe said, "I think it just shows that Goodell probably didn't have the evidence to cheap jerseys back up that drastic of a punishment, but the fact cheap jerseys remains there was something going on."
Tagliabue found that coaches and other members of the Saints organization had "contaminated" the case, essentially saying that wholesale jerseys Goodell's original suspensions, including Vilma's, which was to have run a full season, cheap jerseys were too harsh.
The NFL chose to cheap jerseys china emphasize that Tagliabue had agreed with most of Goodell's initial findings and that the appeals process set out in the collective bargaining agreement, or CBA, worked.
The players union issued a statement calling the ruling a "fair outcome."
The Saints opened the season 04 and are now 58 and virtually out of the playoff race after appearing the postseason the three previous seasons.
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