NFL Players Association representative DeMaurice Smith broke the news on his Twitter account that the commissioner is recusing himself from the appeal process and that Paul Tagliabue will handle the events going forward.
I have been in touch with Roger. He has formally notified me that he will recused himself. Paul Tagliabue will step in.— DeMaurice Smith (@DeSmithNFLPA) October 19, 2012
The news comes just days after a judge ordered Goodell to provide the bounty scandal documents to the court in charge of this appeal hearing. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma had been adamant that he wasn't allowed basic discovery access, and the court ruled in favor of the Saints players involved.
Before this announcement, rulings were scheduled for Oct. 23. Since the appeal process is ongoing, the players involved are all expected to be able to participate in game action this weekend.
Former Minnesota Vikings lineman Jimmy Kennedy was the latest to bash Goodell over these appeals, calling the commissioner a liar over reports that he was interviewed by the league in relation to the scandal.
NFL Network reporter Albert Breer helped spread the word this afternoon, noting how shocked he was with the decision as Goodell moved himself away from this entire process.
The NFL has confirmed that Paul Tagliabue will handle the appeals process in the bounty case. Roger Goodell has recused himself. Wow.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 19, 2012
The news is a welcome sight to players like Vilma, who have been actively calling for Goodell to remove himself from these hearings.
Vilma filed a motion for Goodell to recuse himself on Oct. 12, and it took the commissioner a week to oblige the Saints' defensive captain.
Saints fans are even taking legal shots at Goodell. A fan in New Orleans filed a $5 million grievance against the league on Tuesday, citing the value of season tickets and detrimental value done to the team over these bounty accusations.
In what's turning into one of the darkest periods in NFL history, former commissioner Tagliabue will now be tasked with helping these appeals processes as they move forward. What kind of suspensions and discipline he enacts will certainly be a point of debate, as the players no longer have Goodell as their scapegoat in these hearings.
The move also helps Goodell avoid any further grief from players based on the final decisions, as noted by NFL analyst Ross Tucker.
Goodell move let's him save face when Tagliabue cuts suspensions ... "out of my hands"— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) October 19, 2012
No matter what happens with the Saints and the rest of the league in regards to the bounty situation, Goodell is clearly tired of dealing with the Players Association and the flak from this appeal process.
Keep checking back for all the latest updates on suspended Saints players, the final verdict from Tagliabue and what it all means for the rest of the NFL.