NEW ORLEANS (AP) In a sharp rebuke to his successor's handling of the NFL's bounty investigation, former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturned the suspensions of four current and former New Orleans Saints players in a case that has preoccupied the league for almost a year.
Tagliabue, who was appointed by Commissioner Roger Goodell to handle the appeals, still found that three of the players engaged in conduct detrimental to the league. He said they participated in a performance pool that rewarded key plays - including hard tackles - that could merit fines. But he stressed that the team's coaches were very much involved.
"My affirmation of Commissioner Goodell's findings could certainly justify the issuance of fines. However, this entire case has been contaminated by the coaches and others in the Saints' organization," said a portion of the ruling released by the NFL.