Not all is well with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s appointment of predecessor Paul Tagliabue as the appeals officer in the Saints bounties case. According to one report, the players union might challenge the move.
The reason? A conflict of interest.
Tagliabue is working for the legal firm representing the NFL in a U.S. District Court case in New Orleans regarding the bounties program.
Barry Wilner of the Associated Press reported that a source familiar with the matter said the NFLPA has concerns about “ethical and legal” concerns with Tagliabue hearing the appeals Oct. 30 for the four players who were suspended -- Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith. Their suspensions range from one game up to a full season.
Times columnist Sam Farmer believes this is more legal wrangling -- or at the moment, the threat of it -- in the highly contentious case. According to the collective bargaining agreement the league and union signed in 2011, Goodell does have the power to preside over the punishment and appeals processes.
“Remember, under the CBA, Goodell isn’t required to recuse himself,” Farmer said. “This is window dressing. With that in mind, he’s not going to let the players strong-arm him into choosing an arbitrator they want. Of course, what prompted Goodell to back away in the first place are the legal entanglements that could derail proceedings.”