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NFLPA Concerned About Paul Tagliabue’s Impartiality

Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue received a letter from the NFL Players Association asking him to address potential conflicts of interest he may have as former NFL commissioner in addressing Roger Goodell’s suspensions of players in the New Orleans Saints bounty case.

Tagliabue is Goodell’s former boss and he works for the same law firm that represents Goodell in the defamation suit filed against New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

The NFLPA is also concerned that Tagliabue would compromise his neutrality in the proceedings because he served as a league adviser after stepping down as commissioner.

In the letter, the union asked Tagliabue to address the concerns within a day or else they will file a request asking for his recusal from the hearings.

According the Times-Picayune newspaper, Judge Ginger Berrigan from the U.S. District Court in New Orleans has given the NFLPA until 6 p.m. Wednesday to file a motion asking Tagliabue to recuse himself from the Oct. 30 appeals.

Sports Business Daily reports the calendar for the court to hear motions runs through Oct 29. Tagliabue could potentially prepare to hear the appeals, but be removed by a court decision before Oct. 30.

Tagliabue is scheduled to hear the appeal of Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargove and Will Smith.  If he upholds Goodell’s ruling, then the players may ask Berrigan to intercede.

The players have already asked Berrigan to throw out Goodell’s disciplinary rulings citing he violated their due process rights and demonstrated bias in his handling of the bounty investigation.

The recent NFL collective bargaining agreement in August of 2011 gave Goodell exclusive authority to hear appeals of discipline for conduct detrimental or to appoint someone to hear and decide an appeal.

Goodell felt confident in his decision in appointing Tagliabue to hear the appeals.

“Paul Tagliabue is a genuine football authority whose tenure as commissioner was marked by his thorough and judicious approach to all matters,” he said. “He has many years of experience in NFL collective bargaining matters and an impeccable reputation for integrity.”



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