Originally written on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 12/11/12

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 05: Commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell speaks to members of the media during the NFL Commissioner Press Conference held at the Greater Ft. Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center as part of media week for Super Bowl XLIV on February 5, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  King Solomon solved a thorny legal question with a decision to split a baby in half. It was the stuff of Biblical legend. Retired NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue split the baby today by giving all sides in the New Orleans Saints Bountygate scandal a face-saving way to claim a win. Tagliabue deserves a paragraph when they re-edit Scripture. Current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL PA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith dumped a hot potato in Tagliabue's lap. For the NFL, it was how to exit gracefully Goodell's hard line on the four players named in the scandal while reaffirming the league's power to regulate the game. For the Players' Association, it was how to defend members in a disciplinary process that it does not like, but agreed to accept in the labor agreement. For the Saints players, Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove, it was how to escape financial penalty for too eagerly joining the team's prohibited incentive for aggressive play and then stonewalling the league's investigation. Tagliabue: 1. reaffirmed the commissioner's authority to act, 2. bullet-proofed the NFL court position by providing the players due process in the appeal, 3. confirmed that the league's evidence was enough to make the case against the players, 4. gave players an escape from punishment by pointing fingers at the Saints organization. Don't buy it the hype While all sides claim the win, nothing changed in the union's effort to check Goodell's power. Now, a paper trail finds the players are guilty of the charges. Most fans will never read it, but courts will. Tagliabue chided the commissioner by ruling that fines were justified but suspension was not. Goodell won't like that, but he will take it. It's a strategic retreat, like playing deep Cover-2 with a lead. You gladly give ground as long as the other side does not score. Tagliabue is as sharp a Washington lawyer as you will find. Bet the rent money that he wrote his findings like a court brief to shield the NFL from Judge Helen Berrigan of the U.S. District Court in New Orleans. The league is good at that. It's how they roll ... over the union every time. If the two sides had not hardened positions after the lockout, Goodell might have reached the same conclusion, and the union might have encouraged the players to appeal their case sooner before Goodell instead of Tagliabue. The golden age of labor peace Tagliabue's time as commissioner stretched  from 1989, just before Reggie White opened up modern free agency, to 2006 when pro football cemented its position as America's game. Tagliabue was most effective by bargaining with, not against, the Players Association and the late Gene Upshaw. For that, both Tags and Upshaw took reputation hits. Upshaw was as tough a bargainer as could be found in the labor movement, but believed unions  played a role in the health of their industries. He was accused of being the league's lap dog, but the NFL salary cap was higher under Upshaw than now under the new CBA.   The league enjoyed unparalleled revenue growth and stadium construction during Tagliabue's leadership. That did not stop the small market-big market civil war among owners during the 2006 CBA Extension. That extension was widely acclaimed at the time. We know now that it merely postponed the hostility that erupted over 2010 and 2011. Upshaw was already voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he was named NFLPA executive director. Tagliabue might never be voted there. Players and owners changed directions when Tagliabue retired and Upshaw died. The owners moved to a hard line with a lockout strategy authored by Tagliabue's successor, Roger Goodell. The players did not replace Upshaw with another negotiator. They hired another sharp Washington lawyer, DeMaurice Smith, to sue the bastards. Enter Paul Tagliabue to plant seeds for negotiated settlements by splitting babies. "Can't we all just get along?" ~ Rodney King
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Three teams achieve separation in Aldridge chase

WATCH: Serena Williams wags finger at Wimbledon crowd, says, 'Don’t try me'

Report: Rajon Rondo headed to Sacramento Kings

Dez Bryant deal with Cowboys could be announced Monday

Brandon Saad, Ryan O’Reilly sign long-term contracts with Columbus, Buffalo


Mavs solidify future, sign Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan

A-Rod, Yankees settle dispute over home run milestone bonus

Report: Robin Lopez, Knicks finalizing four-year deal

Becky Hammon will coach Spurs' Summer League team

Jimmy Butler on Derrick Rose: ‘I don’t think we have any issues’

Yankees get A-Rod's 3,000th hit ball for $150,000 donation

The top American sports moments since the last Fourth of July

Nine former college football rivalries that need to come back

The most patriotic uniforms in American sports

Jeanie Buss: Brother Jim will step down if Lakers don't make deep run within two seasons

DeAndre Jordan to Dallas: The Los Angeles Clippers are literally mad men

Remember when the Cincinnati Bearcats were the scariest team in America?

Are the Angels now the worst organization in baseball?

Five reasons the Browns should play Johnny Manziel

Blue Jays need rookies to keep producing for success in 2015

WATCH: Sean Doolittle gets cup check from teammate

University of Florida developing high-tech smart mouth guard

Pat McAfee is the best punter in NFL history

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Odell Beckham Jr. offered professional baseball contract

Orioles keep finding a way to win

Lloyd sends USWNT to World Cup final

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.