Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue will hear the latest appeals from the four players suspended in the New Orleans Saints bounty case.
Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita appealed the latest penalties imposed by current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last week. Union chief DeMaurice Smith said Friday, via Twitter, that Goodell won't be listening to the players' appeals.
"I have been in touch with Roger. He has formally notified me that he will recuse himself. Paul Tagliabue will step in," Smith wrote.
Goodell, in a release issued by the NFL, said he has not "consulted with Paul Tagliabue at any point about the Saints matter, nor has he been any part of the process."
The hearing will take place Oct. 30 at a time and location to be determined by Tagliabue, who will have full independence to decide the appeal. Goodell said he will have "no role" in the decision.
"Paul Tagliabue is a genuine football authority whose tenure as commissioner was marked by his thorough and judicious approach to all matters," Goodell stated. "He has many years of experience in NFL collective bargaining matters and an impeccable reputation for integrity."
After an appeals panel in September overturned the penalties Goodell initially disclosed in May, the commissioner re-issued his decision last week with a few changes.
Hargrove, currently a free agent, had an eight-game ban cut to seven games and Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns, had a three-game penalty trimmed to one game. Vilma's suspension remained season-long and Smith's four-game ban also held firm.
Vilma hasn't played in a game this season because of a knee injury, but has indicated that he could play this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Goodell's recent ruling had allowed for the linebacker to accumulate time served while he was being paid during his time on the physically unable to perform list.
Tagliabue was the NFL commissioner from 1989-2006.