NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is looking to the man he replaced in that job for help in the continuing BountyGate saga.
Paul Tagliabue will hear the new appeals by four players connected to the New Orleans Saints bounty case after Goodell announced Friday that he was stepping away from the process to help bring it to "prompt and fair conclusion."
The appeals by Jonathan Vilma (suspended for the 2012 season), Will Smith (four game ban), Scott Fujita (one game) and Anthony Hargrove (seven games) will be heard October 30. Thus, the players are assured to be able to play in the next two games for their teams. Vilma, the Saints linebacker, has to be activated off the PUP list to be able to play this Sunday at Tampa Bay. New Orleans defensive end Will Smith is healthy and available to face the Buccaneers. Fujita, a linebacker now with the Cleveland Browns, is sidelined with a potentially career-threatening neck injury while Hargrove is an unsigned free agent.
Goodell continues to face scrutiny in the bounty case. He has been sued by Vilma in federal court and called unfair and even dishonest for his statements and handling of the investigation and charges resulting for the Saints' alleged pay-for-performance or pay-for-injury scheme.
Also on Friday, former Vikings defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy pointed out what he classified as three "lies" by Goodell made in a memo sent by the Commissioner to the NFL's 32 teams when the suspensions for the four players were re-issued. Kennedy denies ever being a whistleblower on Hargrove after Goodell claimed Kennedy heard directly frok the then-Saints defender that the New Orleans defense had a bounty out on Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in the 2010 NFL title game.
Tagliabue was the league commissioner from 1989 until Goodell, a long-time employee with the NFL office, succeeded him upon his retirement in September 2006.
The following is Goodell's statement on recusing himself from the bounty appeals:
“I have held two hearings to date,” Commissioner Goodell said, “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.”
|< Prev||Next >|