Goodell Passes Responsibility for Bountygate Hearings to Tagliabue; NFLPA Calls Foul
In an unprecedented move, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has agreed to recuse himself from overseeing a disciplinary appeal by four suspended New Orleans Saints’ players. The appeal is seeking to reverse the suspensions Goodell handed down to the four based on their alleged role in the Bountygate Scandal where various Saints’ personnel were accused of promoting a pay-for-play system that encouraged the injuring of opponents. Goodell has appointed his predecessor and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to adjudicate the hearings in his place.
The original suspensions to Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma were thrown out by an appeals panel in September. Goodell reinstated the hearings for two of the players last month (reducing the suspensions for the two others), prompting another appeal Now, Tagliabue, a former NFL Commissioner and attorney, was chosen by Goodell to preside over the re-heaings based on his extensive legal experience and lack of involvement with the tumultuous back-and-forth legal battle. Goodell stated “Paul Tagliabue is a genuine football authority whose tenure as commissioner was marked by his thorough and judicious approach to all matters.
The NFL Players Association was not pleased, later announcing that Tagliabue was not a suitable substitute because, as former NFL commissioner himself, he was not sufficiently clear of the conflict to be able to act as a neutral arbitrator. The NFLOA later announced its intention to file a motion for Tagliabue to recuse himself.