The decision by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to recuse himself from the appeals process regarding the bounty suspensions is a move that was welcomed by players, fans, and most probably Goodell himself.
Goodell has been locked in a battle with not only the suspended players, but also a defamation suit by New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and backlash from the general public.
Even people who aren’t Saints fans, including the media, have begun to at least question the methods used by the league in building a case against Vilma, Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove, and Scott Fujita.
Red flags have gone off over the last minute signed declaration by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams a few weeks ago and a recent declaration by defensive lineman Jimmie Kennedy saying that even though Goodell claims he interviewed him in regards to the bounty case, Kennedy says that never happened.
In fact, in the released statement by Kennedy on Friday, he out and out called the claim by Goodell that he was a “whistle-blower” a “lie”. In fact Kennedy uses the word “lie” numerous times in regards to claims Goodell made in regards to Kennedy’s involvement in the investigation.
This is just the latest evidence that has begun to unravel with the bounty case and just when you think that is it, something else spins on it’s axis. The decision for Goodell to remove himself from the process was the smart move for all parties.
Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will instead be the one to hear the appeals for the suspended players which will be set for October 30 and although Tagliabue was a mentor to Goodell, he should still be a bit more unbiased when it comes to the hearing.
While it won’t be a guaranteed “in the bag” grand slam victory for the players, it will still be a better shot than they would have with Goodell for certain.
Goodell benefits because if Tagliabue keeps the suspensions the same the players may not be happy, but they received what they had asked for in letting someone besides Goodell hear the case and then he can wash his hands of it.
While Tagliabue will not have the power to increase the suspensions, he will have the right to let the suspensions stand, reduce them, or vacate them completely.