Paul Tagliabue Vacates Saints Players' Bountygate Punishments

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Paul Tagliabue Vacates Saints Players' Bountygate Punishments

Paul Tagliabue may agree with Roger Goodell's findings in the New Orleans Saints' Bountygate scandal, but not the punishments of individual players.

According to NFL public relations head Greg Aiello, Tagliabue, who was acting as a neutral arbitrator in the case, has vacated the suspensions of Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove and Jonathan Vilma.

Aiello released Tagliabue's statement in a series of tweets:

When notified of Tagliabue’s decision, the NFL released a statement of its own, once again released on Aiello’s Twitter feed:

While the NFL can still appeal to a higher court, Tagliabue's decision should mark an end to the scandal that has marred the 2012 Saints season.

Goodell had initially suspended Vilma for the entire season, Hargrove for eight games, Smith for four games and Scott Fujita for three games as part of his punishments for the Saints’ bounty system.

Under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was suspended indefinitely for his part, New Orleans employed a system where players would be paid for big hits, or even injuries, levied on opposing players.

The most glaring example of that came against then-Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC Championship Game. Favre was injured in that contest, which the Saints won en route to their franchise's first Super Bowl victory.

Head coach Sean Payton was also punished for his part and has been serving out a suspension for the entirety of the 2012 season. 

Based on his statements, that seems to be the way Tagliabue wanted it. While his stance doesn't necessarily let anyone off the hook, his statement seems to be a condemnation of the organization more than the players.

Still, by taking the time to read the testimony and making a decision, the former commissioner has finally done something Goodell struggled to do and ended the scandal.

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