SBD/Closing Bell

NFLPA Moving To Prevent Tagliabue From Presiding Over Appeals

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The NFLPA will file a motion tomorrow in Louisiana federal court asking Judge Helen Berrigan to prevent former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue from presiding over an appeal of the bounty suspensions of four former and current Saints players. The court posted the results of a status conference held today in the NFLPA’s lawsuit against the NFL over the suspensions. The post said the NFLPA has until tomorrow to file its recusal motion, with the NFL response due Friday, and the union response to that Oct. 29. The hearing before Tagliabue is scheduled for Oct. 30.

The union is apparently concerned over potential conflicts of interests, as Tagliabue still works for Covington & Burling, the law firm representing the NFL. And he is current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s former boss. The union has blasted Goodell over his role in the process. Goodell already turned down one appeal, but an arbitration panel sent the issue back to him for clarification. He issued revised suspensions, and the players appealed again. Last week he announced he would recuse himself and appointed Tagliabue instead.

The CBA gives Goodell near unlimited power over issues defined as conduct detrimental to the game, so he was under no obligation to step aside. The players argue that under the CBA and labor law they are due a fair process, which they contend has not occurred. Berrigan during previous oral arguments indicated a sympathy to that line of argument.
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