Former NFL commissioner says case "contaminated by the coaches and others in the Saints' organization"
Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has overturned the suspensions of four current and former New Orleans Saints players in the league's bounty investigation of the club.
Tagliabue, however, found that the players' conduct was detrimental to the league. He says they participated in a performance pool that rewarded key plays - including hard tackles - that could justify fines.
But the former commissioner said Tuesday that "this entire case has been contaminated by the coaches and others in the Saints' organization."
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma initially had been suspended the whole season, while Saints defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove received shorter suspensions.
The league "respects" Tagliabue's decision, according to a spokesperson.
Vilma's lawyer says a defamation lawsuit against Roger Goodell will go forward.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees had this response via Twitter:
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