NEW YORK, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Suspensions slapped on four New Orleans Saints players in the team's bounty scandal have been vacated, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Tuesday.
In his statement, Tagliabue affirmed the league's findings in the case, but decided team management deserved more blame than the players.
Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita were penalized by current league Commissioner Roger Goodell in May for their roles in the bounty episode, which paid players bonuses for inflicting injuries on key opposing players from 2009 to 2011.
Vilma was suspended for the entire 2012 season, Hargrove for eight games, Smith for four games and Fujita for three games.
The penalties were first overturned on appeal in September, but Goodell came right back and reinstated them the next month. A second appeal led to Tagliabue being appointed to look into the matter and he decided to overturn the suspensions.
The NFL players' union had sought to have Tagliabue who was commissioner from 1989 to 2006, removed from any involvement in the bounty case.