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Goodell appoints Tagliabue to hear player appeals

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Goodell appoints Tagliabue to hear player appeals

NEW YORK (AP) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed predecessor Paul Tagliabue to hear the appeals of four players suspended in the Saints' bounty scandal.

Goodell said Friday he notified Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove, as well as the players' union, that Tagliabue would be the hearing officer to ``decide the appeals and bring the matter to a prompt and fair conclusion.''

The union and the four players had asked Goodell to recuse himself, contending he could not fairly rule. Their second set of appeals will be heard Oct. 30.

``Any time we move towards a fair evaluation of the evidence it is a positive development,'' said Peter Ginsberg, Vilma's attorney. ``Commissioner Goodell's belated recognition that he cannot possibly serve as an impartial and unbiased arbitrator is certainly a positive development. And we have enormous respect for Paul Tagliabue.

``Having said that, we now need to learn whether Commissioner Tagliabue plans to provide to us the fundamental rights that Commissioner Goodell ignored, including the right to examine the accusers and to see the evidence, and also we need to consider that Commissioner Tagliabue is counsel to the law firm representing Commissioner Goodell in Jonathan's defamation lawsuit, as well as representing the NFL in Jonathan's challenge to the entire process in this matter.''

Vilma was suspended for the 2012 season and Smith was banned four games for his role in the bounties program. Fujita, now with the Browns, was barred three games, since reduced to one. Hargrove is a free agent whose suspension was reduced from eight games to seven.

``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.''

``Paul Tagliabue is a genuine football authority whose tenure as commissioner was marked by his thorough and judicious approach to all matters,'' he added. ``He has many years of experience in NFL collective bargaining matters and an impeccable reputation for integrity.''

Tagliabue was NFL commissioner from 1989-2006 and is a lawyer. For part of that time, Goodell was the league's general counsel.

Goodell said he consulted with NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith before asking Tagliabue to hear these appeals. The collective bargaining agreement with the union that was reached to end the lockout in August 2011 gave Goodell exclusive authority to hear appeals of discipline for conduct detrimental or to appoint someone to hear and decide an appeal.

Goodell periodically has appointed others to hear appeals for club fines, personal conduct suspensions and for matters concerning drug and steroid policy.

``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.''

Goodell handed down the suspension in May and they took effect in July after initial appeals were rejected by Goodell. Those suspensions lasted through training camp before being vacated by a three-member appeals panel that instructed Goodell to start the disciplinary process again and clarify his reasons for suspending the players.

The suspensions were reissued by the NFL last week and promptly appealed by all four players. None of the suspensions is currently in effect because they were appealed within the framework of the NFL's labor agreement.

But all four players have asked U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan to throw out Goodell's disciplinary rulings on the grounds he has demonstrated bias against the players in his handling the bounty investigation. The players say Goodell violated due process rights.

In a recent court filing, the union said: ``It is only a neutral (arbitrator) of unquestioned integrity who can restore public confidence in this process and mitigate the damage which the NFL's handling of `bounty-gate' has inflicted upon the game.''

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AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this report.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

It's almost here.

After a lengthy break between the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Finals, the Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights are set to meet on Monday for Game 1.

Who will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir give their keys to the series and their predictions for the Stanley Cup Final. Plus, JJ speaks with several member from the local media to get their insights and predictions.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 27, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Here is my sunrise view from this morning:

Looking at next year’s free agents

This post was originally published on March 18. 

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens. 

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard). 

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility. 

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon. 

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup. 

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight. 

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler