The NFL has been trying to paint Paul Tagliabue’s decision in the bounty case as something other than a Cornell-Hofstra slaughter. Still, the other parties in the case are making more of the outcome than perhaps they should.
Said the NFLPA on Tuesday: “Vacating all discipline affirms the players’ unwavering position that all allegations the League made about their alleged ‘intent-to-injure’ were utterly and completely false. We are happy for our members.”
But nothing contained in the 22-page ruling from Tagliabue show that any of the allegations were “utterly and completely false.” Indeed, the characterization that the decision makes the allegations “utterly and completely false” is, well, “utterly and completely false.”
Moreover, the use of the term “intent-to-injure” introduces a new term to what has been a game of semantics. The players had called the program “pay-to-injure” while the league had referred to it as “pay-for-performance” and a “bounty.”
Either way, Tagliabue exonerated only one player: Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, whose one-game suspension arose from the notion that he didn’t try to stop the programs that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had put in place. Even then, Tagliabue didn’t claim the allegations against Fujita were false, “utterly and completely” or otherwise.