Judge Helen Berrigan, presiding over the players' defamation lawsuits in the New Orleans Saints bounty matter, issued orders for the NFL Players Association and NFL to file on the potential recusal of ex-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue during a conference Tuesday, according to court documents.
Berrigan ordered that the NFLPA file its motion to have Tagliabue recused by Wednesday at 5 p.m. CT, that the NFL file its reply by Friday at 5 p.m. CT and the union file its subsequent reply by Monday at 5 p.m. CT.
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, sent an email to players explaining the process of the upcoming proceedings.
The NFLPA also sent a letter to Tagliabue outlining three questions it had for the former commissioner on potential conflicts of interest. Tagliabue has yet to reply to that, according to a union source.
The letter asks three central questions of Tagliabue:
The first is if he can clear himself on the District of Columbia Bar's ethical regulations. "Rule 2.4," which states that an individual cannot be an arbitrator if they are associated with one of the parties, is referenced.
Second, the union wants to know the nature of Tagliabue's involvement in the bounty situation, since Tagliabue is a partner at Covington & Burling, the firm that is representing the NFL in the players' lawsuits.
Third, the union asks Tagliabue to clarify his relationship with the NFL. On his bio at the law firm, Tagliabue is referred to as a business consultant for the league.
In the union's view, the letter could lead to four conclusions:
1) Tagliabue could agree that there are conflicts and recuse himself.
2) Tagliabue could say that he believes that the he can be a neutral arbitrator, and the union could disagree and ask him to recuse himself.
3) Tagliabue could convince all parties he can be neutral, which is unlikely given the union's position.
4) Tagliabue and the league could simply do nothing and move forward with the appeal.