Saints Suspensions Over Bounty Case Thrown Out

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue threw out the suspensions of four New Orleans Saints players Tuesday over the team’s bounty program to try to knock key players out of games, while criticizing nearly everyone tied to the case and condemning the Saints for for obstructing the investigation. Tagliabue bascially absolved former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns, but agreed with Commissioner Roger Goodell’s findings about the other three, Saints players Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith and former player Anthony Hargrove, who’s now a free agent. Tagliabue, who was appointed by Goodell to oversee a second round of appeals, criticized the Saints as an organization, saying it encouraged behavior and tried to block the probe. However, he said it was difficult to determine whether the players bounty pledges were real, or just a motivational statement. He also said Goodell had imposed punishment that was disproportionate to what players were given in the past for similar behavior, which had generally been just fines. He also stated that he’d decided it was in the best interest of all parties concerned to throw out the player punishments because of the acrimony it’s caused between the league and the players union.