DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA Executive Director, has just tweeted out that he received formal notification from Roger Goodell that he will recuse himself, and that former commissioner Paul Tagliabue will take over in regard to the Bounty Gate appeal hearings. Jonathan Vilma asked that Goodell do the same thing a few weeks ago, after the suspensions were re-instated across the board after a judge had overturned them.
What was the final straw here? Jimmy Kennedy released a statement through the NFLPA basically calling Goodell a liar, so maybe that was the final nail to drive this. Regardless, it’s a massive public move for someone who to this point has operated as judge, jury, appellate judge and executioner, even if the net effect is not great. Tagliabue will now step in for the hearings for Vilma, Fujita, Hargrove and Smith on October 30th.
Here is the text of Roger Goodell’s statement (via Pro Football Talk):
“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.”
[photo via US Presswire]