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NFL refuses to recuse Paul Tagliabue from bounty hearings

Roger Godell and Paul Tagliabue Roger Goodell stepped aside, and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue (right) stepped in. (A. Messerschmidt, Getty Images)

When NFL Comissioner Roger Goodell stepped aside as arbitrator in the New Orleans Saints bounty case, the Saint's Jonathan Vilma took it as a positive step in the appeals process.

Now he may be regretting his words.

Vilma and the NFL PLayers' Association filed a motion to have Goodell's replacement, Paul Tagliabue, recused from proceedings as well, citing Tagliabue's tenure as NFL Commissioner from 1989 until 2006. That status, they argued, prevents him from having a neutral outlook on the case.

Today, the NFL submitted a statement of its own.

"Mr. Vilma was right that Commissioner Tagliabue was a good appointment," the league's attorney's wrote. "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 of anyone else more qualified."

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