|Goodell and Tagliabue have had a long relationship. (Getty)|
For all the accusations of unfairness regarding the reality that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can suspend a player and then hear his appeal, and the stubbornness with which the league has allowed this to occur over and over again, this tweet from the head of the NFLPA is incredible and surprising.
I have been in touch with Roger. He has formally notified me that he will recused himself. Paul Tagliabue will step in.— DeMaurice Smith (@DeSmithNFLPA) October 19, 2012
Smith is referring to the Saints' alleged bounty program, and this means those players who were accused of being involved in it -- Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita -- will not have to appeal their latest suspensions to the man who issued them.
Instead, former commissioner Paul Tagliabue will hear appeals in what the NFL says in a statement will "bring the matter to a prompt and fair conclusion." The appeals originally had been scheduled for Tuesday, but according to CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora, the hearing has been moved to Oct. 30.
More from the NFL:
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFLPA, Commissioner Goodell has the exclusive authority to hear appeals of discipline for conduct detrimental or appoint a designee to hear and decide an appeal. Commissioner Goodell consulted with NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith in several conversations before deciding to appoint another hearing officer for this case.
“I have held two hearings to date,” Commissioner Goodell said, “and have modified the discipline in several respects based on my recent meetings with the players. To bring this matter to a prompt and fair conclusion, I have appointed former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to serve as the hearing officer for the upcoming appeals. Paul Tagliabue is a genuine football authority whose tenure as commissioner was marked by his thorough and judicious approach to all matters. He has many years of experience in NFL collective bargaining matters and an impeccable reputation for integrity.
Tagliabue, of course, was in Goodell's position from 1989-2006, so it wouldn't appear as though the NFL is completely interested in having an independent observer hear the appeals. But the fact that Goodell is ceding power is, from what I can remember, unprecedented.
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