The NFL Players Association hasn’t, and won’t, ask former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to step aside from the arbitration of the player suspensions in the bounty case. Instead, the NFLPA will ask Judge Helen Berrigan to bounce Tagliabue.
The union has announced that a motion to recuse Tagliabue, who was appointed by current Commissioner Roger Goodell five days ago, will be filed on Wednesday.
“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,” the union said in a statement. “We will have no further comment related to these filings.”
The NFL must respond to the motion by Friday at 5:00 p.m. CT, and the players have the final word, with a brief due by 12:00 p.m. CT on Monday.
A decision will need to be made quickly. The hearing before Tagliabue currently is set for Tuesday, October 30.
The NFLPA believes that Tagliabue has a conflict of interest, given that he works for the law firm that represents the NFL in the bounty cases and other matters. Also, the NFLPA plans to call Tagliabue as a witness in the bounty cases, given that the NFL reportedly tolerated player-funded “pay-for-performance” programs in the 1990s, when Tagliabue served as the Commissioner.
UPDATE 1:54 p.m. ET: A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma will join in the NFLPA’s effort. Since Vilma has his own counsel, the NFLPA is representing only Saints defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and free-agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove.