Tagliabue, however, found that the players' conduct was detrimental to the league. He says they participated in a performance pool that rewarded key plays - including hard tackles - that could justify fines.
But the former commissioner said Tuesday that "this entire case has been contaminated by the coaches and others in the Saints' organization."
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma initially had been suspended the whole season, while Saints defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove received shorter suspensions.
(Copyright 2012 the Associated press. All Rights Reserved)