The Saints players have been vindicated. Well, sort of.
Paul Tagliabue, after hearing the players appeals, has found that the players did engage in conduct detrimental to the game. However, he has decided that the penalties were not warranted and have been vacated. He dtermined that the coaches and the organzation had “corrupted” the case and were more to blame than the players. It’s an interesting finding, being that the players are guilty, but not guilty enough to be punished.
He actually affirmed Goodell’s findings on Vilma, but had this to say:
“I cannot, however, uphold a multi-game suspension where there is no evidence that a player’s speech prior to a game was actually a factor causing misconduct on the playing field and that such misconduct was severe enough in itself to warrant a player suspension or a very substantial fine.
I am not really sure how this makes any sense. Vilma and the others are guilty, but they are not guilty enough? Either they did it or they didn’t. If they participated in detrimental conduct, some punishment is warranted. It just makes no sense. Congratulations to the players, but this is just strange.