With the hearing previously set for today canceled and Hurricane Sandy disrupting pretty much everything in New York and Washington and all points in between, the parties are still waiting to hear when, and if, former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will take up the question of whether the player suspensions will be upheld.
Tagliabue was expected to contact the parties Monday to reschedule the October 30 hearing. There have been no developments in that regard.
Judge Helen Berrigan could, theoretically, issue a ruling at any time regarding the effort to prevent Tagliabue from handling the internal appeal, given his employment with the law firm that represents the NFL in multiple matters, including a defamation lawsuit brought by Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma against Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The suspensions of Vilma and Saints defensive end Will Smith won’t become effective until Tagliabue issues a ruling upholding the discipline — and unless Judge Berrigan decides to not delay the ruling pending judicial review of the decision. Thus, Vilma and Smith will be available to play on Monday night against the Eagles.
With the Saints hosting the Falcons six days later, it remains to be seen whether Tagliabue schedules the hearing for Tuesday, November 6, or whether he waits until Tuesday, November 13.
Brown linebacker Scott Fujita has been placed on injured reserve with a neck injury, so the timing doesn’t matter in his case. As to free-agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove, who currently faces a two-game suspension once he signs with a team, the sooner this ends, the better. No team will sign him until the situation is resolved.
In hindsight, it would have been prudent for Hargrove to drop his challenge and serve the original eight-game suspension, since he would have already missed eight weeks of the season. He’d now be free and clear to sign with a new team.