Score one for the game of football. Not that it matters at this point in the season but former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has vacated all player suspensions in the completely botched debacle that is the New Orleans Saints’ Bountygate.
Tagliabue’s decision places the burden of blame on the coaches and organization instead of the players.
There is still plenty to be sorted out in this mess but in the end the NFL’s witch hunt has blown up in the face of Roger Goodell. As the NFL continues to minimize defense with the hopes of increasing revenue via more and more high powered offenses they’ve become sloppy.
Clearly there was not enough “evidence” to support the suspensions of the players involved. Even if there was the nature in which the league went about handing out punishment was haphazard, self serving and arrogant. To assume the players and their union would simply rollover and accept whatever was coming proved Goodell and his staff was drunk with power.
While we all can appreciate the desires of the league office to make the game safer there is something to be said for keeping the spirit of football alive. At what point do you draw the line if these types of suspensions become regular practice? Is it a “bounty” if a defensive end has a contract bonus for sacks? If a coach instructs one of his players to “blow that guy up” is he putting a bounty on a player?
There are far too many gray areas in this situation and Tagliabue recognized that. What remains very cloudy are the suspensions and fines handed out to the coaches.