• Upon Further Review..

    BountyGate V - Return of Tags

    OK. I read the whole 22 page decision by Tagliabue.


    First and foremost, he did not re-judge the conclusion based on the facts of the case, i.e. Guilty or Innocent, i.e. de novo.
    Under these principles and the terms of Article 46, I am not reviewing

    Goodell’s October 9, 2012 findings and conclusions de novo.
    He DID rejudge from scratch the sentencing.

    Second, he was judging an appeal of Goodell's 2nd ruling (if someone has a link to it, please post). Remember Goodell's First Ruling which levied the suspensions was overturned by the 3 judge panel. He then made a 2nd ruling based on Conduct Detrimental and levied the same suspensions. It seems that many charges were dropped between the 1st and 2nd ruling, although the media didn't seem to pick up on that.

    Third, for some reason, this appeal decision focuses in solely, for Vilma, on the defensive meeting on the night prior to the NFCC and a bounty on Brett Favre. No mention of regular season bounties, no mention of Kurt Warner.

    Even though here is some of the original remarks by the League.

    New Orleans Saints players and at least one assistant coach maintained a bounty pool of up to $50,000 the last three seasons to reward game-ending injuries inflicted on opposing players, including Brett Favre and Kurt Warner, the NFL said Friday. "Knockouts" were worth $1,500 and "cart-offs" $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs.

    The NFL said the pool amounts reached their height of $50,000 or more in 2009, the year the Saints won the Super Bowl.

    Tag's Findings

    Tags did have to judge whether the 4 were innocent or guilty, simply because an innocent person should have no sentence. But he did so more like a booth review, where there had to be conclusive evidence to overrule the call on the field, which was Godell's.

    Also Tags made a basic ruling about Pay for Performance pools. He found historically that they were widespread, sanctioned by the league, only added to the League Policies in 2007(called The Bounty Rule), and when other clubs (such as the Patriots in 2008) were found to be violating Pay4Perf rules was a small fine to the Club and no players. In 2008 Patriots were fined $25,000. No players were even fined.

    Thus suspensions for Pay4Performance were minor issues for Club discipline, never player discipline.

    Scott Fulita -

    First Godell Ruling - Commissioner Goodell found that Scott Fujita pledged a significant amount of money to the Program, including for cart-offs and knockouts, and failed to act to stop the Program. He suspended Fujita without pay for three games.

    Second Godell Ruling - In the summary of Godell's 2nd ruling, he made two findings:

    1) Fujita created a Pay for Performance fund of his own, but did not offer any money for injury.
    2) The League also contends that, in determining whether Fujita engaged in conduct detrimental, it is of no importance that he claims never to have offered money for hits on opponents such as cart-offs or knockouts. The League urges that merely offering rewards for big
    plays - - in which Fujita engaged “while a respected leader of the Saints’ defense and role model for other players” - - clearly violates the NFL Constitution and Bylaws.

    Note: From the 1st to the 2nd finding, Goodell has dropped charges of contributing money for injuries.

    Tags did not overrule #1 (affirmed), but overruled #2. Thus Tags ruled that a Pay4Performance pool does NOT reach the level of Conduct Detrimental. The Fujita did not do anything that can be covered by CD, and his suspension is vacated.

    Will Smith -

    Goodell's First Finding -

    1) Will Smith, as a Saints’ defensive team captain, had
    assisted Coach Williams in establishing and funding the Program

    2) That Smith pledged significant sums of money during the 2009 season playoffs towards the Program for cart-offs and knockouts of Saints’ opposing players.

    Goodell's Second Finding-

    1) and 2) Same as First.

    3) Because Will Smith was a defensive leader, Goodell can single him out for discipline.

    Tags affirmed 1) and 2) but overruled #3. Since about two dozen other players engaged in "The Progam" discipline for one member cannot be significantly different than for all. No basis for singling out "team leaders". Suspension Vacated.

    Anthony Hargrove -

    Goodell's First Finding -

    1) Hargrove participated in The Program.
    2) Hargrove lied to Goodell during questioning.

    Goodell's Second Finding -

    1) omitted.
    2) Same, while claiming the fact that coaches instructed Hargrove to lie was irrelevant.

    Tags ruled that historically no player had been more than fined for obstruction of an investigation, such as the Brett Favre fine of $50,000. Tags ruled that coaches telling a player to lie was relevant. A seven Game suspension was unwarrented. Sentencing vacated.

    Jonathan Vilma -

    Goodell's First Finding -

    1) Participated and funded "The Program".
    2) Made specific offers for Warner and Favre.

    Goodell's Second Finding -

    1) Same.
    2) Omit Warner, only Favre.

    On Vilma specifically, Tags ruling cited Williams and Cerullo saying Vilma did offer $10K for getting Brett Favre out of the game in a defensive meeting on the night before the NFCC. Vilma and Vitt said he did not. No other interviews were cited. It is inconclusive whether any of the 30 or so other people in the meeting were interviewed, although if they were, they should have been cited.

    Thus Tags did not overrule Godell's judgement that Vilma did it for Favre.

    Tags also said there was not sufficient evidence that Vilma's speech was actually a factor in on field actions. That combined with the orchestration of the Saturday meeting by the coaches meant the Suspension was not warranted.


    Tags Overruled and established:

    - Pay for Performance does not warrent Player discipline. It is a minor Club issue.
    - Team Leaders cannot be punished differently from all other miscreants.
    - Suspension is an inappropriate discipline for "Obstruction of an NFL investigation".
    - For Vilma, his speech was not shown to correlate with on the field behavior, thus not worthy of suspension.

    Tags did not Overrule:

    - "The Program" included pay for "Cartoffs" et al, i.e. injuries.
    - 3 of the 4 initially charged players participated in the program.
    - Vilma offerred to pay for Favre.

    Thus Tags found:

    For the reasons set forth in this Final Decision on Appeal, I affirm the factual findings of Commissioner Goodell; I conclude that Hargrove, Smith, and Vilma engaged in “conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football”; and I
    vacate all player discipline.
    i.e. for 3 out of 4 players, Goodell's 2nd findings were not overruled, but Goodell's punishments were aberrational and were vacated.

    Comments 21 Comments
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      "If anybody's keeping a scorecard here, let's take a look at this," Vitt said. He referred back to his first meeting with reporters after the NFL released its bounty probe findings last March, in which he said, "At no point in time did our players ever cross the white line with the intention of injuring, maiming or ending the career of another player. That never took place."

      Then, recounting his witness appearance in Vilma's case last summer, he added, "I've testified before a federal judge with my hand on the Bible."

      "What's going to happen now is all participants, all these accusations, are going to go to federal court," Vitt continued. "They're going to go to a judge, and from top to bottom, she's going to hear testimony, and the penalty for perjury with her is going to be jail time."