NEW ORLEANS -- Word of former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's decision to overturn the suspensions of four current or former New Orleans Saints players spread quickly.
It was a topic of conversation with the lunch crowd in the city's Central Business District.
"I've always thought that this whole thing is way overblown, from the get go," said Saints fan Mike Serio. "I felt it was overblown. I think a lot of teams have done it in the past."
"I think that they just went after the Saints and public opinion got to them and they started to realize that we singled out these people and we shouldn't have," said Saints fan Cary LaPlace.
Some fans say they don't think Tagliabue's findings go far enough.
"I think part of the problem that I still have is I don't think anybody exonerated these guys," said LaPlace. "They still think they did what they did and that's what he said and then he's taken the penalties away."
"I don't know how you can vacate and say there's no penalties and also say I uphold what Goodell did," said Saints fan Tim Phinny. "It is time that the coaches come back. It's time that we just move on."
"Not unless he also vacated giving us our draft picks back and reinstating Sean Payton," said Saints fan Jodi Berry. "Did that happen? No."
Eyewitness News Legal Analyst Chick Foret read Tagliabue's full 22-page opinion.
He says it's a clear victory for Jonathan Vilma, who faced a year-long suspension.
"He said in his opinion that he could not impose a suspension where there was no evidence that A) a bounty was paid or B) that there were actions taken as result of that bounty," said Foret. "He clearly referred to what went on in that locker room as talk."
Former players attending a ground breaking in the Lower 9th Ward Tuesday have their own opinions about the pay to injure scandal.
"Around the league and even when I played coming in we called it a pot or a pool," said former Saints defensive back Tyrone Hughes. "I don't know if they used the word bounty when Greg Williams was here if that was the term, we just called it a pool. The only way you got the money out of the pot is that it had to be a legal hit, nothing that was a cheap shot because you didn't get paid for it anyway."
"It's hard to project what the league really saw," said former Saints offensive lineman Chuck Commiskey. "Why was the league so upset. That's the basic nature of the game is contact. There may be some extenuating circumstances in the fact that money was exchanged or whatever. But, I mean that money, with the pay standard it is today, that money was minimal."
"I don't think guys were paid to take anybody out," said Karr High School graduate and former Bears offensive tackle Bernard Robertson. "I think the penalty has already been paid. You look the disruption that it's caused the team. You look at the loss of a leader in Coach Payton. You look at what it's done to their season. It's a distraction."
Despite the challenges and a disappointing 2012 season, the former players say the Saints will bounce back next season.
"As far as next year, I don't see it falling," said Commiskey. "I just see it getting better."
"You have winning seasons," said Hughes. "You have losing seasons back to back, so as a player you bring in new guys and get rid of some of the other guys and you just have to bounce back and rebound."
Back in the CBD, Mike Serio says he hopes Tagliabue's opinion is the start of good things to come for the Black and Gold.
"Hopefully it's another step forward. We need Sean Payton back, big time. It's obvious we miss his leadership and coaching ability."