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Who was the biggest winner and loser in Paul Tagliabue's decision?

December 12, 2012|By Chuck Schilken
  • Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled Tuesday that the penalties to players involved in the New Orleans Saints bounty program were to be vacated.
Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled Tuesday that the penalties… (Cliff Owen / Associated…)

Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue affirmed Tuesday the "factual findings" of Commissioner Roger Goodell but vacated any penalties to the players involved in the New Orleans Saints bounty program.

Writers from around the Tribune Co. will discuss who benefited most and least from Tagliabue's ruling. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the conversation with a comment of your own.

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

Roger Goodell was both the biggest loser and winner in Paul Tagliabue’s bounty scandal ruling. Goodell’s credibility has taken a huge hit over the course of this ordeal, and having his predecessor correct him in such a public forum has to be a blow to the ego.

But Tagliabue did Goodell a huge favor too.

By affirming the factual findings of the investigation, essentially siding with Goodell at every turn, Tagliabue did nothing to strengthen the legal arguments of the (formerly) suspended players, the coaches or anyone who might continue to pursue this case in court.

A judge could still rule differently, but it carries weight that Tagliabue, an ostensibly impartial arbiter, finds the pay-to-injure evidence significantly compelling.

[Updated at 12:17 p.m.:

Gregory Lee, South Florida Sun Sentinel

The biggest winner in the ruling was the NFLPA. The victory signals a potential shift in how commissioner Roger Goddell handles future rulings. With every decision, Goddell grew bolder in his authority and perhaps this case was the breaking point for the NFLPA. Bounty-gate became more about the players against Goddell than the pay for injury concerns.

The biggest losers are the NFL and the city of New Orleans. Sean Payton's year-long suspension put an end to a legit shot at an having the first NFL team playing and hosting a Super Bowl.]

[Updated at 1:59 p.m.:

Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune

Gregg Williams had to hate what he read from Paul Tagliabue this week. The former commissioner's ruling put the blame for the bounty scandal clearly on the Saints coaching staff, and specifically on Williams. It could affect Williams' ability to return to the league as a coach, at least in the short term.

The ruling also hurts Sean Payton's image, but Payton will be back coaching the Saints next season and making people forget about his involvement. The defense was Williams' baby. 

Three players came out of this smelling pretty sweet, as Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith and Anthony Hargrove had their suspensions lifted.

But the biggest winner was Scott Fujita, the linebacker who was exonerated by Tagliabue. The ruling suggested that these players were merely following orders -- the orders of Williams, Payton and the coaching staff.]

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