Roger Goodell steps down from NFL bounty investigation
Hey, whoa, Paul Tagliabue is still alive?
We first heard semi-official word from the Twitter account of NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith. "I have been in touch with Roger," Smith tweeted Friday morning. "He has formally notified me that he will recused himself. Paul Tagliabue will step in." The NFL has since confirmed Goodell's recusal from the case.
This Paul Tagliabue guy, for you younger fans, was commissioner of the NFL from 1989 to 2006.
This decision really only affects the four players named and handed suspensions in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal -- current Saints Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith, ex-Saint and current Cleveland Brown Scott Fujita, and ex-Saint and current free agent Anthony Hargrove. Each of these players has appealed his suspension, and now their appeals will be handled by someone other than Goodell.
Those appeals will begin on Tuesday of this week, so it is possible that Vilma and Smith will play their last football for awhile when the Saints play Tampa Bay Sunday. Tagliabue could immediately deny the appeals, and the players' suspensions would begin immediately.
Vilma's season-long suspension is in appeals, and he's been sidelined anyway with knee surgery. Vilma appears likely to play Sunday against the Buccaneers. Will Smith's four-game suspension is in limbo, and can be instated by Tagliabue Tuesday. Anthony Hargove's suspension has been reduced from eight games to seven games, but Hargrove is not even employed in the league right now. Scott Fujita's suspension has been reduced to just one game, but Fujita's career may be over because of a neck injury.