From the Twitter account of NFL spokesman Greg Aiello comes the league’s statement regarding the outcome of the bounty appeal hearing.
The players have won. We think.
“Tagliabue affirms factual findings of Commissioner Goodell concludes Hargrove, Smith, Vilma ‘engaged in conduct detrimental’ and vacates all player discipline,” Aiello says, using “and” where perhaps “but” would have been the better choice.
Regardless, the suspensions imposed on Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and free-agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove have been overturned.
He also offers this quote from former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who issued the ruling: “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.”
In other words, Tagliabue had decided that the players should not be punished, even though he thinks they did something wrong.
We’ll be breaking this one down in more detail soon.