FILE - This Oct. 21, 2012 file photo shows New Orleans Saints football linebacker Jonathan Vilma (51) running onto the field in Tampa, Fla., Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012. Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and lawyers for the league and the players' union have arrived in Washington, Thursday for a hearing in the Saints bounties case. Tagliabue is overseeing the latest round of player appeals in Washington. Vilma and fellow player Will Smith, who were suspended said they plan to attend. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
NEW ORLEANS —
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.