Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was set to hear the appeal hearings of four current and former New Orleans Saints players on Tuesday, October 30, but the threat of Hurricane Sandy along the East Coast has caused Tagliabue to adjourn the hearing for now. It is believed, per a Pro Football Talk report, that Tagliabue will prove more information on Monday, though it is not known whether he will have set a new date by then.
The hearing was scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C., in the region expected to be affected by the hurricane early next week.
The Saints bounty scandal fallout has been a major topic in the offices of the NFL and NFLPA, not to mention certain courts of law. The saga took a twist when current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recused himself from the process last week. Goodell named Tagliabue, his predecessor from 1989 through 2006, to replace him. The NFLPA objected to this appointment on the basis of conflict of interest and filed a motion asking for a neutral voice in the process, but the NFL responded by saying that the former Commissioner could be objective.
"We have advised the union that we believe there is no basis on which former commissioner Tagliabue should recuse himself and we will oppose any request that he do so," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Associated Press in an e-mail. "The appointment is consistent with the CBA and past practice, and there is no question that commissioner Tagliabue is fully qualified to hear these appeals."
The league then filed a counter-motion, quoting Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma as saying that 'I think it's a good first step for Paul to be the neutral arbitrator.''
Vilma was suspended for the entire 2012 season by Goodell. He and the other three suspended players -- Saints defensive end Will Smith, current Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove -- have been allowed to play despite those suspensions because a three-person panel overturned the original suspensions in early September. Fujita was placed on injured reserve by the Browns this week.
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