Tagliabue rescinds penalties in NFL bounty case

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma's suspension for the 2012 season has been vacated.

Story highlights

  • Decision by former commissioner overturns current NFL chief
  • Case affects the New Orleans Saints from 2009-2011
  • Tagliabue says Saints given incentives to hurt opposing players
  • Was it typical "trash talk" that occurs regularly before games?
Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue on Tuesday rescinded punishments against four players in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
The ruling overturned a decision made in October by Roger Goodell, the current commissioner, against Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita.
Under the bounty program, Tagliabue wrote, Saints players were given incentives during the 2009 through 2011 seasons to render opposing players unable to play. They were called "cartoffs" and "knockouts."
In addition, it was alleged that the Saints offered a bounty for injuring Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre during the NFC Championship game in January 2010.
In October, after he upheld suspensions, Goodell appointed Tagliabue to review player appeals.
In his 18-page order, Tagliabue found that Fujita's actions "were not conduct detrimental" and vacated a one-game suspension imposed by Goodell.
Tagliabue wrote that Fujita "did not participate in the program including cartoffs and knockouts and that his participation in a 'non-injury' pay-for-performance pool is typically subject only to club discipline."
Tagliabue found that Hargrove, Smith and Vilma engaged in "conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football," but ordered their punishments also be rescinded.