In a move that will make the ultimate discipline applied to the players involved in the Saints bounty case even stronger, Commissioner Roger Goodell has recused himself from Tuesday’s appeal hearing.
The announcement came from NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith on Twitter.
Per Smith, Goodell will hand the baton to former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
It’s a power the Commissioner possess under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. And Smith got advance notice because the CBA requires Goodell to consult with the NFLPA.
It’s a smart move. Goodell was and is too close to the case. It would have been virtually impossible for him to be truly objective and impartial. And by picking Tagliabue, Goodell is keeping the decision in the hands of a Commissioner-level arbitrator — with Goodell hoping Tagliabue will reach the same decision that Goodell reached. And if Tagliabue ultimately upholds Goodell’s decision, it will be harder for the players to obtain a reversal of the decision.
Then again, the players may welcome the move. After all, Tagliabue was the Commissioner in 1996, when the league allegedly condoned the “Smash for Cash” program.
And who was the Executive V.P. of League and Football Development at the time, the precursor to the current “Football Operations” department? Roger Goodell.