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Federal judge gives players until Wednesday to file motion to recuse Tagliabue


Contrary to the beliefs of certain non-lawyers who may be able to read but not fully comprehend what they’re reading, the NFLPA has not yet officially asked former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to step aside from his new role as the person who’ll decide the appeals in the bounty cases.

And the NFLPA likely never will.

Instead, the request will be made if at all to Judge Helen Berrigan by Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. CT. If the motion for recusal is made, the NFL will have until Friday at 5:00 p.m. CT to respond, according to Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Then, the players have until 12:00 p.m. CT on Monday to file their final written submission on the matter.

As Holder points out, the timeline could make it difficult to proceed with an appeal hearing on October 30, especially if Judge Berrigan doesn’t promptly rule on the issue after the players have the last word in writing.

There’s no indication as to whether Tagliabue has responded, or even will respond, to the letter sent by the NFLPA on Monday. The players are concerned about Tagliabue’s employment with Covington & Burling, the law firm that represents the NFL in bounty-related litigation and other matters. Also, the players apparently intend to call Tagliabue as a witness in the bounty cases (including the appeal hearing), given the ESPN report on “Smash for Cash” from the day of Super Bowl XXXI, in early 1997, when Tagliabue was the Commissioner and the league office apparently condoned player-funded “pay-for-performance” pools.

The fact that Judge Berrigan is willing to entertain the motion for recusal suggests that she believes she has the power to block Tagliabue from serving as the arbitrator. The NFL likely will claim, if the motion is filed, that the courts have no authority over an arbitration process until the ruling has been issued.