Paul Tagliabue affirmed the findings of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the league's investigation of the New Orleans Saints' bounty program, but vacated all discipline issued to players who were punished, league spokesman Greg Aiello announced on Twitter.
As a result, the suspensions of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and free-agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove have been overturned.
"Unlike Saints' broad organizational misconduct, player appeals involve sharply focused issues of alleged individual player misconduct in several different aspects," Tagliabue said, according to multiple reports. "My affirmation of Commissioner Goodell's findings could certainly justify the issuance of fines. However, this entire case has been contaminated by the coaches and others in the Saints' organization."
Tagliabue's ruling doesn't mean Vilma will end his counter-attack. His lawyer has confirmed that VIlma will continue with his defamation case the against Goodell will move forward.
"Jonathan intends to continue to pursue the defamation lawsuit in order to reclaim his reputation," attorney Peter Ginsberg told Albert Breer of NFL Network. "We're pleased that the unjust penalties have been overturned, but this is only one piece in remedying the situation for Jonathan."