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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appoints Paul Tagliabue to hear player appeals in Saints' bounty case

By The Associated Press Published: October 19, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has appointed his predecessor, Paul Tagliabue, to hear the appeals of Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and the other three players suspended in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal.

Goodell said Friday that he notified Fujita, Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith 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. Tagliabue, the NFL’s commissioner from 1989-2006, will conduct hearings for the four players on Oct. 30 at a time and location to be determined by him, the league announced.

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, a free agent, had his suspension reduced from eight games to seven.

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