Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has informed the NFL Players Association that he will not recuse himself from the appeals hearing for four players involved in the New Orleans Saints' bounty program, a union source said Monday.
Tagliabue's formal response to the NFLPA's motion will be filed in court Tuesday. The appeals hearing, originally scheduled for Oct. 30, hasn't been rescheduled yet.
Tagliabue's response comes after the NFLPA and the four players -- Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargove -- appealing their suspensions filed a motion asking the former commissioner to recuse himself because of what they claimed was a conflict of interest. The union wants a court-appointed arbitrator to oversee the hearing.
An appeals panel overturned NFL-imposed suspensions issued to the four current and former Saints players. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell then re-issued the suspensions before appointing Tagliabue to hear the players' appeals.
The NFL filed a motion in U.S. District Court in New Orleans on Oct. 26 arguing that Tagliabue should be allowed to hear the players' appeals. NFL lawyers argued in their motion that "Commissioner Tagliabue has the experience necessary to assess whether the conduct the players engaged in was detrimental to the league and, if so, to assess the propriety of the discipline that Commissioner Goodell imposed. It is difficult to think anyone else more qualified."