Tuesday, 11 December 2012 20:31

Tagliabue's vacate of New Orleans Saints Bounty discipline ruling is right

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vilmaPaul Tagliabue's decision Tuesday to vacate discipline against current and former Saints players in the Bountygate episode was the right one, but it is disappointing that Commissioner Roger Goodell did not make it when he had the chance. Regular readers to this column will recall my September 12 column in which I climbed up on the commissioner's throne and pretended I had the power.

     As I wrote in that column, if I was commissioner, here is what I would have decreed: "I am hereby terminating any and all suspensions of players related to the so-called Bountygate scandal, on the condition that any and all suits against the league, whether active or contemplated, also will be terminated. The suspensions of non-players will stand since the individuals who created the pay for performance system clearly knew that such a system violated the NFL Constitution and Bylaws. Justice has been served. Let us now put this behind us and concentrate on working together to keep the National Football League as the most popular, most respected professional sports enterprise in the nation."

     And that is almost exactly what Paul Tagliabue said. Of course, the players'  dropping their suits against the NFL and Goodell was not a condition of Tagliabue's decision, but that will surely come. The players were protesting the suspensions, and Tagliabue's decision gave them what they wanted. It is also reasonable that Tag upheld the discipline against the coaches and front office members for what he characterized as "broad organizational misconduct."

     The lasting implication here will be Goodell's ability to render discipline in future cases where players are suspended for conduct detrimental to the game. I suspect he should turn his gavel and robes over to Tagliabue since any object of future discipline will likely ask for a third party review. It was a good decision, but one that Goodell could have made much earlier. And that might have salvaged his dignity and kept any respect he still had from the players or fans intact.


His new book, "Where the Water Kept Rising," is now available in local bookstores, at Amazon.com and at his website: www.JWMillerSports.com


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