Would Tagliabue Also Vacate Saints Coaches Suspensions?

Chris Graythen

It's what wasn't said in Paul Tagliabue's ruling that raises an interesting question.

Considering the favorable ruling handed down Tuesday by Paul Tagliabue, which vacated the suspensions of all four players disciplined by Roger Goodell for their alleged involvement in the Saints bounty scandal, it's a shame we can't get Tags to oversee an appeal for Goodell's suspension of Saints coaches and staff.

Unfortunately, Saints staffers don't get an appeals process, so Tagliabue would never be put in that position. He addresses this in the first page of his elaborate 22-page ruling:

Commissioner Goodell fined the Saints $500,000; forfeited the team's second-round draft selections in 2012 and 2013; suspended the Saints' head coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 NFL season; suspended Saints' general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games and fined him $500,000; suspended Saints' assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games and fined him $100,000; and suspended the now former Saints' defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely. These suspensions thus deprived the Saints of vitally important coaching and leadership talent, and they represented a severe competitive penalty for the Saints' team, its fans and indirectly for the New Orleans / Gulf Coast region. Commissioner Goodell's findings and the resulting suspensions of these Saints' personnel are final and no longer subject to appeal.

Read that sentence in bold again. Tagliabue is acknowledging that Goodell has already hurt the Saints plenty with his sanctions on the organization and personnel, while putting the team at a severe disadvantage. In fact, it almost sounds like he feels bad for all of Who Dat Nation.

Nowhere does he say that he agrees with those penalties, however. And I would think that if he did, he'd say so and right here in that paragraph is where he'd state that. But he doesn't.

We know that Tagliabue confirms Goodell's findings of organizational wrongdoing, putting most of the blame in a case "contaminated by the coaches and others in the Saints' organization" on those in charge.

I strongly condemn the misconduct of the Saints' coaches found by Commissioner Goodell and confirmed in the record developed during this appeal. That severe misconduct played a substantial role in my deciding whether to sustain, in whole or in part, or vacate the discipline to be imposed upon these four players.

But nowhere does he ever confirm Goodell's punishment of the coaches and organization. Given that the two commissioners are on completely different pages when it comes to player discipline, I think it's safe to assume they'd be equally apart on matters of personnel discipline as well.

All of this naturally begs the question: How would the fair-minded Tagliabue rule on the suspensions of Saints personnel if given the opportunity?

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