Commissioner Goodell feels bounty players should have been fined
IRVING, Texas — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he “fundamentally disagrees” with former league boss Paul Tagliabue's decision not to discipline players in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal.
Speaking Wednesday after an owners meeting in the Dallas area, Goodell said he respected his predecessor's decision and believed it backed up the commissioner's conclusion that the Saints ran a bounty program for three years and covered it up.
But Goodell took issue with Tagliabue's vacating the yearlong suspension of linebacker Jonathan Vilma and shorter bans for three other current and former Saints players. In an NFL appeal ruling issued Tuesday, the former commissioner placed much of the blame with the Saints' coaches and front office.
“I fundamentally disagree that this is something that lies just with coaches and management,” Goodell said. “I do think their leadership position needs to be considered, but I also believe these players were in leadership positions, also.”
Like Vilma, Saints coach Sean Payton received a yearlong suspension. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely, and assistant Joe Vitt, who is now the interim head coach, was banned for six games. General manager Mickey Loomis got an eight-game suspension.
“My personal view is I hold everyone responsible,” Goodell said. “Player health and safety is an important issue in this league. We're all going to have to contribute to that whether you're a commissioner, whether you're a coach, whether you're a player, and we all have to be held accountable for it.”
The 22-page ruling allowed the sides to claim victory more than nine months after the league first revealed the Saints' bounty scandal to shocked fans, describing a performance pool operated by Williams that, among other things, rewarded hits that injured opponents.
“Frankly, I think everybody's a winner to get this issue behind us,” Jacksonville owner Shahid Kahn said.
On Wednesday, Vilma asked a federal judge to allow him to move forward with a defamation lawsuit against Goodell in U.S. District Court in Louisiana. Vilma's lawyers filed a motion to drop his case against the NFL's disciplinary process now that his suspension has been lifted.
Tagliabue didn't find the players completely without fault, though. He said Vilma and defensive end Will Smith participated in a performance pool that rewarded key plays — including hard tackles — while defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, following coaches' orders, helped to cover up the program when interviewed by NFL investigators in 2010.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Jeannette native Pryor’s fate hangs in balance
- Steelers reporter Mark Kaboly’s NFL playoff picks
- Brady free to play after judge rules against NFL in ‘Deflategate’
- Through all gimmicks, NFL remains downfield passer league
- Previewing the NFL’s American Football Conference
- NFL notebook: Bills cut RB Jackson, name Taylor starting QB
- Starkey: The NFL’s quarterback quagmire
- Starkey: The kick returner and the grizzly bear
- NFL notebook: Redskins torn over QB Griffin’s fate
- NFL notebook: Pierre-Paul reportedly set to return to Giants next week