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NFLPA asks Paul Tagliabue to step aside

Then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue smiles during a press

Then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue smiles during a press conference for the New Orleans Saints. Credit: AP, 2006

In the never-ending saga inolving the Saints' alleged bounty program, the NFL Players Association has filed a motion with the U.S. Distrcit Court in New Orleans to recuse former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue from the appeals process. 

Commissioner Roger Goodell had stepped aside from the appeals process last week and appointed his predecessor. But that decision didn't sit well with the NFL, which is representing three of the four players suspended in connection with the case. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who is suing Goodell on defamation charges, is not directly asking that Tagliabue step aside. 

Judge Helen Berrigan, who is hearing the case brought by Scott Fujita, Will Smith and Anthony Hargrove, has given the NFLPA until 5 p.m. today to make any motion about Tagliabue. The league has until Friday to respond, and the NFLPA will have until the following Monday to answer the league's response. 

The move was expected after the union sent a letter to Tagliabue this week, citing his involvement with the law firm representing the NFL in Vilma's defamation lawsuit. Tagliabue is also an NFL consultant, a position the union believes is a conflict of interest and could color his observations in the appeals process.

The hearings for all four players are scheduled to be heard by Tagliabue next Tuesday, although it remains to be seen whether today's filing will disrupt that schedule. 

UPDATE: Vilma has separately filed a motion to remove Tagliabue from the appeals hearing. 


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