The NFL wants former commissioner Paul Tagliabue to hear appeals for the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal next week, and is gearing up for a fight to keep him in.
Lawyers for the NFL filed a motion in US District Court in New Orleans on Friday, arguing that Paul Tagliabue to hear the appeals, ESPN reported. The players’ union and four players suspended in the New Orleans Saints bounty case had filed a motion asking that Tagliabue remove himself from the case as it was a conflict of interest. Players instead have asked for a neutral arbitrator to be selected by the court.
The NFL is turning to the words of one of the suspended players to make its case. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma had told ESPN that he supported Paul Tagliabue, saying, “I think it’s a good first step for Paul to be the neutral arbitrator.
Tagliabue could be getting ready to take the case. In an email to USA TODAY Sports Friday, Tagliabue said he was currently in China but would be returning to the US on Saturday.
NFL lawyers have been working hard to make the case for Tabliabue.
“Commissioner Tagliabue has the experience necessary to assess whether the conduct the players engaged in was detrimental to the league and, if so, to assess the propriety of the discipline that commissioner Goodell imposed,” lawyers wrote. “It is difficult to think of anyone else more qualified.”
NFL lawyers noted that the NFL Players Association has no basis to accuse Paul Tagliabue of “anything nefarious,” noting that he has had no part in previous action or investigation of the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.