Did the four players tagged in the Saints' Bounty case who's suspensions were vacated by former NFL Commish Paul Tagliabue have their claims of "no-intent-to-injure-for-pay" validated?
Of course they were validated. They only took on the most powerful, popular league in America, maybe the world, and, in large measure, won.
They got their suspensions lifted but vindication is via perspective only. Their names are tarnished, plus, they aren't exactly clean.
It was a victory for due process. However, the players were not as exonerated as they claim to be. Tagliabue found that they engaged in "conduct detrimental" to the game.
They were incentivized and rewarded for "knockouts" and "cart-offs." Is that not a bounty?
There was a pay for performance program. Those players - coaches and management - also could have averted a lot of this had they been more cooperative years ago, and earlier this summer.
You can play all the semantic games you want here. But I hope people remember what they heard on that Gregg Williams audiotape (not only is the coach guilty, but he seems to have given up his
guys pretty easily as well). It was abhorrent. The culture has to change. This was an important, imperfect step in that direction.
The NFL learned before it drops the hammer, it has to have iron-clad proof. Players don't need to preen, though.
The league's intent was spot on and what needs to be done to clean things up should be done - and will be.