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Union could challenge Tagliabue as arbitrator

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As the parties try to process the sudden and surprising decision of Commissioner Roger Goodell to recuse himself from Bounty Appeal Hearing 2.0, the NFLPA has several concerns regarding his replacement, former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.  And those concerns could result in a challenge to Tagliabue’s ability to proceed.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the concerns commence with the manner in which Tagliabue was chosen.  While the CBA expressly requires that Goodell consult with the NFLPA before designating his authority to another arbitrator, the union believes Goodell didn’t consult with the players but merely informed them of the change.  The players, if it were a true consultation, may have suggested a three-judge panel, or a federal magistrate, or someone not currently connected in any way to the league or the law firm representing the league bounty-related litigation, as Tagliabue is.

That’s why the NFLPA didn’t issue a statement on Friday regarding the decision.  While the union is happy that Goodell came to the conclusion that he’s the wrong person to handle the internal hearing, Tagliabue may not be the right answer, and the union may eventually request that he step aside, too.

Then there’s the possibility that Tagliabue’s ongoing affiliation with Covington & Burling, the firm that through Gregg Levy represents the NFL in bounty-related court proceedings, may be automatically disqualified.  Rule 2.4 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct explains that “a lawyer serves as a third-party neutral when the lawyer assists two or more persons who are not clients of the lawyer to reach a resolution of a dispute or other matter that has arisen between them.”  Under the same set of rules, a client of a lawyer’s firm is regarded as a client of the lawyer.  Thus, if one of the parties technically is a client of the lawyer, the lawyer can’t serve as a third-party neutral in a way that complies with the rules that regulate the practice of law.

In other words, if Tagliabue proceeds, he could be inviting regulatory scrutiny in the jurisdictions where he is licensed to practice law.

Then there’s the possibility that the NFLPA will decide to call Tagliabue as a witness, either in court or at the appeal hearing, regarding the league’s failure to enforce the bounty rules against the “Smash for Cash” program that operated on Tagliabue’s watch in 1996.  If he’s a witness, he can’t also be the arbitrator.

No decisions have been made regarding whether Tagliabue’s service as arbitrator will be challenged.  But yet another storm could be coming.  And it could result in yet another arbitrator being assigned to handle the case.

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22 Responses to “Union could challenge Tagliabue as arbitrator”
  1. wussbasket says: Oct 21, 2012 10:24 AM

    does goodell have any clue how to run anything?

  2. coreyn23 says: Oct 21, 2012 10:30 AM

    Oh, Tags how we miss you!!!

  3. eigglesnosuperbowls says: Oct 21, 2012 10:31 AM

    Headline should read ! UNION WILL CHALLENGE TAGLIABUE as arbitrator !

  4. ilovefoolsball says: Oct 21, 2012 10:31 AM

    Can’t Goodell do something right FOR ONCE!?

    Cue the tons of whiners saying the canned tired excuses:
    1. Just accept your punishments like men and move on.
    2. I’m so sick of hearing about this yet I continue to click on stories and read about this so I can comment how sick I am because I have no life.
    3. “Saints*”
    4. “The coaches admitted to it so it must be true”.

  5. purplengold says: Oct 21, 2012 10:32 AM

    An independent arbitrator will be assigned, even if it means that’s the judge.

  6. tater2 says: Oct 21, 2012 10:34 AM

    Roger Goodell at EVERY turn in the road of this process has handled it in a manner that reflects an agenda to find guilt and not a transparent search for the truth…..
    Even if the NFL wins this in the end, it will be a Pyrrhic victory for sure!

  7. gennieleko says: Oct 21, 2012 10:50 AM

    If the evidence is strong enough to justify the heavy handed punishments that have been given then why not trust that a neutral party would reach the same conclusions.

  8. windycity0301 says: Oct 21, 2012 10:50 AM

    The players won’t be happy unless De Smith is deciding their appeals.

  9. udjets says: Oct 21, 2012 11:02 AM

    The union is just as morally bankrupt. They will fight the appointment of anyone other than someone who supports their cause. I’ve personally watched a union defend and win a case where a guy was fired after being written up 4 times for literally sleeping on the job. When he came back, all we could do is prank him while he was sleeping.

    The union doesn’t give two craps whether it’s doing the right thing or not, so to immediately take their side with as little information that we’ve been given is naive. A union is more than willing to throw members under the bus (in this case, bounty targets) to protect a few idiots. This is just a PR game that the NFL isn’t playing. They are using the unwillingness of the NFL to share information to try to turn fans that think they have a right to know everything (which they don’t).

    In summary, one shouldn’t trust the word of the NFLPA any more than the NFL since they a both focused on their own agendas.

  10. jackers252 says: Oct 21, 2012 11:09 AM

    Can Rog call a re-do?

    I think we all are anxious for this story to close. The league needs to release its info and let a federal judge (which has no ties to the league) make a ruling. This is past a CBA issue at this point.

    If the league doesn’t close this door soon, then more federal judges and congressmen will be trying to nose their way in to the internal workings of the NFL. And if the NFL handles the rest of its business like it did Bountygate, then I think we can all say that having judges and congress snooping around is far from a good thing.

  11. mrlaloosh says: Oct 21, 2012 11:12 AM

    Get the Pope! He’s infallible.

  12. lippy4246 says: Oct 21, 2012 11:19 AM

    The union will only be happy when the league digs up Pete Rozelle.

  13. mancave001 says: Oct 21, 2012 11:35 AM

    When will our long national nightmare be over?

  14. 6thsense79 says: Oct 21, 2012 11:51 AM

    If the CBA states Goodell is required to consult with the NFLPA before assigning an arbitrator why didn’t he? I constantly see people saying the players should just follow the CBA and accept whatever punishment is handed them when in actuality the the commissioner was recently ruled as not following the CBA and had his judgment vacated the first time around.

  15. thejuddstir says: Oct 21, 2012 11:55 AM

    jackers252 says:Oct 21, 2012 11:09 AM

    Can Rog call a re-do?

    I think we all are anxious for this story to close. The league needs to release its info and let a federal judge (which has no ties to the league) make a ruling. This is past a CBA issue at this point.

    If the league doesn’t close this door soon, then more federal judges and congressmen will be trying to nose their way in to the internal workings of the NFL. And if the NFL handles the rest of its business like it did Bountygate, then I think we can all say that having judges and congress snooping around is far from a good thing
    ==========================
    I agree with the majority of ur comments, but a Federal Judge from Louisiana who has already stated her bias is hardly the right person to have as an “arbritrator”.

  16. stew48 says: Oct 21, 2012 12:14 PM

    As some have indicated, it is now pretty clear that Roger and his team cannot manage the situation with anything like justice being the goal. We who would like this to end must be patient, just as the judge is being patient. When RG has finally hung himself out to dry, the judge will set the table and we will then see a conclusion based on aceptable procedure(s). And, that’s the way it is in the USA!

  17. purplengold says: Oct 21, 2012 12:22 PM

    mancave001 says:
    Oct 21, 2012 11:35 AM
    When will our long national nightmare be over?

    When we stop making war on the rest of the world.

  18. senky3 says: Oct 21, 2012 12:23 PM

    i find it amazing that everything the nfl does is bad and that the saints are good. no matter what the nfl does, the saints will say that it is stacked against them. but not one saint fan said a word about the main judge is a saints fan and has publically sh0wn her bias against goodell. that is apparently alright. stay strong saint fan, this could still go your way

  19. kattykathy says: Oct 21, 2012 12:51 PM

    Goodell is too stupid. To think that the players will not contest the appointment of his mentor and former boss is just arrogant and moronic.

    Find an impartial 3 person panel and everything will be good. Why does he refuse to let an impartial person rule? Because he AINT GOT NOTHING.

  20. kattykathy says: Oct 21, 2012 12:58 PM

    “Why don’t the players accept their punishment and abide by the CBA that they agreed to”???
    WAAAAAAAAA! I’m a loser that believes whatever Goodell says!!!!!

    Hmmm, a panel recently vacated the Gestapo’s suspensions in part because he didn’t follow the CBA.
    Now the Gestapo ignored the CBA by not consulting the union prior to appointing Tags.

    I really wish some people would get a clue before posting uttter nonsense.RG has such a hard on to make his attack on the aints valid that his actions are starting to become very disturbing. It’s almost like an obsession and he is willing to break rules, morals, ethics, and laws to make everyone believe his imaginary claims.

  21. cwwgk says: Oct 21, 2012 1:08 PM

    The NFLPA continues to try and assert rights neither it, nor its constituents, possess. The appointment of Tagliabue was entirely consistent with the CBA. For appeals of suspensions or fines for conduct detrimental it is the commissioner that “shall” appoint the arbitrator, including himself. Where was this procedural argument when Goodell, again consistent with the CBA, originally appointed himself? I recognize the NFLPA and Ginsberg balked at Goodell, but that was for impartiality reasons not because they weren’t first consulted. Pursuant to the CBA, the NFLPA has no ultimate say who the arbitrator is; that is the sole province of the commissioner.

    This is readily apparent by a simple review of the corollary section of the CBA: arbitration hearings for fines/suspensions arising from conduct on the field. For those hearings: the PARTIES shall, on an annual basis, JOINTLY select (2) or more designees to serve as hearing officers.”

    There is a clear distinction clearly set forth in the CBA: The commissioner picks the arbitrator for conduct detrimental hearings; the commissioner and the and suspended or NFLPA

    This is nothing more than a dispute between an employer and a group of employees. Absent a showing of discrimination due process, the U.S. Constitution are utterly irrelevant. Stated more basically, the league and the players are in a a disagreement over a contract: their collective bargaining agreement.

    Which is why all this talk about 1996 shows the lunacy, or at least extreme desperation, of the NFLPA and Ginsberg. The sole question is whether the suspended players breached the CBA as alleged during the time period specified. What happened in the NFL when the players were in elementary school is nothing more than a historical footnote.

    Despite the curious outrage against Goodell and the league, they are the ones sticking to the CBA. The NFLPA and Ginsberg? They continue to throw spaghetti against the wall and call their opposition names. How professional.

  22. kattykathy says: Oct 21, 2012 1:58 PM

    Wow.
    thank you Mr. Goodell for your clear, unbiased, self evaluation in the above long-winded, propaganda speech

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