PAUL TAGLIABUE WILL REPLACE GOODELL AT SAINTS HEARING
The NFL has confirmed that commissioner Roger Goodell will recuse himself from hearing appeals in the New Orleans Saints' bounty case, and that former commissioner Paul Tagliabue will now handle that task.
The surprising news first surfaced Friday via a tweet from DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association.
The appeals are scheduled for Tuesday for the four players who face suspensions: Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, and free agent Anthony Hargrove.
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Goodell issued a statement explaining the move, which said:
"I have held two hearings to date and have modified the discipline in several respects based on my recent meetings with the players. To bring this matter to a prompt and fair conclusion, I have appointed former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to serve as the hearing officer for the upcoming appeals. Paul Tagliabue is a genuine football authority whose tenure as commissioner was marked by his thorough and judicious approach to all matters. He has many years of experience in NFL collective bargaining matters and an impeccable reputation for integrity.
"To be clear, I have not consulted with Paul Tagliabue at any point about the Saints matter nor has he been any part of the process. Furthermore, under our process the hearing officer has full authority and complete independence to decide the appeal and determine any procedural issues regarding the hearings. I will have no role in the upcoming hearings or in Mr. Tagliabue's decisions."
Goodell's move is a concession of sorts to the four players, given that under the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFLPA he has exclusive authority to hear appeals on such matters.
Tagliabue, 71, was the NFL's commissioner from 1989-2006. He rose to the commissioner's position after first working for the NFL as an attorney. He is chairman of the Georgetown University Board of Directors.