In the seconds after former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue vacated the punishments implemented by the NFL in the ever-lasting, epic, dramatic, insane Bountygate case that started nine months ago, I received an email from one of the New Orleans players, Scott Fujita.
The email read simply: "Win."
And he won. Fujita promised and fought and swore he never took part in a bounty program, and he was totally vindicated by Tagliabue's ruling.
To break down what Tagliabue did is basically this simple: He believed that a bounty program was run and the players engaged in conduct detrimental to the league. In essence, he backed the findings of Roger Goodell and the NFL.
But Tagliabue had two distinct differences. First, Tagliabue blamed management more than players, saying that Saints management had increased blame. This has been the player argument throughout, in that they were forced to do these things by the Saints coaches.
Second, and most important, Tagliabue didn't believe the punishment fit the crime. This is why he vacated the discipline. Look at Tagliabue's history. He rarely suspended players. He believed fines made the difference.
So here we are. This sad, sordid case is nearing an end, and in the end, both sides can claim victory, in a case with no winners.
What happens now? This doesn't affect the case of Sean Payton. He's still toast. Or the other coaches like Gregg Williams. All of that still stands and by all indications those coaches have no intention of taking any sort of legal action.
This also will not stop the current defamation lawsuit being filed against the league by Jonathan Vilma.
So while the bulk of the case is over, it's not totally over.
But at least we can see the finish line.
Finally. Thank goodness.