The Bounty Gate saga may be nearing it's end after all. Paul Tagliabue has vacated the suspensions of Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita in their entirety. Wow. I figured Vilma may get the last 3 games as punishment, and the others might have some reductions, but this I did not anticipate. Of course, having their suspensions vacated is a far cry from vindication, as Tagliabue was quick to support that there was enough evidence to suspend numerous players but that the evidence and testimony were tainted by the coaches and Saints' organization. Presumably that was emphasized in an effort to slam the door shut on any premature return from suspension of Sean Payton or Gregg Williams. In the end, actions speak louder than words as far as I'm concerned. He may have accusatory tone, but he backed down from the NFLPA with this ruling. The players are thus vindicated whether he gives his ruling with a caveat statement or not.
Does having Vilma and Smith really make that big of a difference for the Saints on the field? Not really. But off the field this is a big win for them. They can resume their careers having not served any suspension time. Congrats to them! Hopefully putting this all behind us long before the 2013 season is now in the cards.