|Paul Tagliabue says he supports Roger Goodell. (Getty Images)|
It's been six weeks since Paul Tagliabue vacated the suspensions of the players implicated in the Saints bounty scandal. In his 22-page decision, Tagliabue didn't deny the existence of a bounty program but but wrote that the "entire case had been contaminated by the coaches and others in the Saints' organization."
The perception was that Tagliabue's ruling was a stern rebuke of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who had issued the suspensions last spring.
"Absolutely not," Tagliabue told the Times-Picayune's Jeff Duncan recently. "To make it clear, I was completely supporting Roger, to the frustration of some of those involved [with the team]."
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"We were going to be litigating into 2013 and right into 2014," Tagliabue continued. "Rather than keeping the focus on getting the 32 teams, the 5,000 players to focus on player safety, you'd spend half a decade in litigation. That wasn't really going to help very much of anything. This thing became an impediment to progress."
Tagliabue, who preceded Goodell as commissioner, was tapped to hear the second round of player appeals. He said his decision was about moving the league forward.
"It had become more than just a distraction," he said. "The controversy was overshadowing everything Roger had accomplished in terms of emphasizing player safety. From my perspective, Roger found himself in an impossible spot. It became impossible for him in any sensible way to bring it to an end. Everyone would be better off to bring it to an end."
Fair enough, but how did Goodell get in that impossible spot?
Some might argue by neglecting the rule of law and haphazardly meting out punishments.
Last week, U.S. District Court judge Helen Berrigan dismissed Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma's defamation suit against Goodell. Hopefully, that is the official end to the bounty scandal.
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