Friday unexpected news involving the Saints took place. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will recuse himself from Tuesday’s appeal hearing for four bounty players. Taking his place will be former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
The move has to be a surprise to everyone considering the way Goodell has handled the previous appeals and reaffirmation of the bounty penalties. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, and defensive end Will Smith with Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove have been asking for Goodell to step aside and let an independent arbitrator hear the appeals.
"I have held two hearings to date and have modified the discipline in several respects based on my recent meetings with the players," Goodell said. "I will have no role in the upcoming hearings or in Mr. Tagliabue's decisions.”
Goodell added, "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."
The decision to bring in Tagliabue was a mutual discussed between Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.
The players no doubt feel that this is their best hope to not only avoid the penalties but also to clear their name of the bounty allegations.
"To be clear, I have not consulted with Paul Tagliabue at any point about the Saints matter, nor has he been any part of the process," Goodell said. "Furthermore, under our process the hearing officer has full authority and complete independence to decide the appeal and determine any procedural issues regarding the hearings."
As for the team, they wrapped up their week of practice Friday afternoon.
The final injury report of the week was a positive one for the Saints. Cornerback Jabari Greer (groin), Jahri Evans (toe), Lance Moore (hamstring), defensive end Turk McBride (ankle), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck), and running back Travaris Cadet (shoulder) all were full go and listed as probable for Sunday’s game.
Tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle) was limited for the second day in a row but is listed as questionable. Linebacker Scott Shanle (illness) fully practiced but is listed as probable. Fellow linebacker David Hawthorne didn’t practice all week and is out for Sunday’s game.
The Saints will head to Tampa following Saturday’s walkthrough. Sunday they will kick it off against the Bucs at noon locally.