Recently former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue vacated the suspensions of Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith, all current or former New Orleans Saints players suspended for allegedly being involved in an illegal bounty program that paid players for injuring and knocking opposing players out of games. Despite no longer being suspended, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma is still pursuing his defamation suit against current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Despite taking away the players' suspensions, Tagliabue still concluded that all of the players except for Fujita participated in conduct detrimental to the NFL and that the Saints' coaches and staff, including former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, played a large role in that conduct. In addition to these statements, Tagliabue also claimed the entire Saints organization tainted the league's investigation as much as possible and so there is not conclusive evidence to warrant maintaining the players' suspensions.
Personally, I support Vilma's decision to sue Goodell as well as Tagliabue's decision to vacate the suspensions of the players. I do not agree, however, with Tagliabue's statement regarding the corruption of the league's evidence.
I believe the reason the NFL could not find substantial evidence condemning the Saints organization is because of the simple fact there was never any evidence to begin with. As for the evidence the league did uncover, specifically the audio recording of Gregg Williams ordering players to injure some key San Francisco 49ers players, I believe that was just a typical defensive coordinator's speech to his players to get them fired up for the game.
In my opinion, the NFL's next logical step is to apologize to the Saints organization and players for vilifying them for several months as well as vacating the suspension of Saints head coach Sean Payton and St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. In conclusion, the NFL should just drop the case and worry about more important, current matters.
Camden Troutman, Selinsgrove Area High School