NFLPA Requests Paul Tagliabue Recuse Himself from Bountygate Appeal

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2012

Retiring NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue watches as  Roger Goodell talks to the media  at an owners meeting  in suburban Chicago August 8, 2006.  Godell was selected to succeed Tagliabue.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The NFL Players Association has sent a letter to former commissioner Paul Tagliabue asking that he remove himself from the New Orleans Saints' "Bountygate" appeal, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports

The NFLPA has sent a letter to Paul Tagliabue raising what it believes are conflicts and asking him recuse himself from bounty appeal

— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 23, 2012

UPDATE: Thursday, Oct. 24 at 1:15 p.m. ET by Adam Wells

It would appear that former commissioner Tagliabue has not taken the steps to remove himself from the Saints' appeals. 

The NFLPA is going to move forward with its motion to file papers with a court to get Tagliabue taken off this particular case due to his involvement with a similar case from when he was commissioner of the NFL. 

Here is the official statement released by the NFLPA regarding the motion:

To comply with the Court-ordered schedule, we will be making a motion under the CBA to recuse Paul Tagliabue today, and will be subsequently filing those papers with the Court. We will have no further comment related to these filings.

The NFL and the NFLPA need to sit down and figure this situation out, because the longer it drags on, the more the players who need to have the appeals heard get hurt. If they are stuck in a constant state of limbo, it is hard for teams to know what to do with them. 

---END OF UPDATE---

 

La Canfora also reports that the NFLPA wants to use Tagliabue as a witness in its case based on an incident that happened under his watch with the Green Bay Packers in 1996. It also wants to give Tagliabue a timetable to make a decision before making this an official request. 

In this case rather than the arbitrator, in that NFLPA would like to question him on his '96 handling of Green Bay "smash for cash" case...

— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 23, 2012

In the second-to-last sentence of the letter, gives Tagliabue one day to respond to their inquiries before filing "formal" recusal ...

— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 23, 2012

Given that Tagliabue has been directly involved in a case like this, it makes sense that the NFLPA would want to use him, instead of having him do Roger Goodell's bidding. 

That 1996 case involving the "smash-for-cash" Packers is eerily similar to what the players implicated in "Bountygate" are dealing with. 

In the Packers' case, Barry Meisel of the New York Daily News wrote an article that quotes Reggie White talking about cash changing hands for big hits.

"A few years ago when I came down here with Philadelphia, they said we put bounties on people," White was quoted as saying. "We didn't put bounties. This has been going on since I came into the league."

Meisel's article states that NFL spokesman Greg Aiello "said this players-only gamesmanship is fine, as long as the team doesn't support the payoff."

That could be where the NFL sees a difference with the Saints, as former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was implicated (via Yahoo! Sports) as running the bounty system. 

But Tagliabue's close connection to a previous case that did not warrant any suspensions or punishments does not make him an ideal choice to dole out justice in this case.