- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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TAMPA, Fla. -- New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma said he's happy with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's decision to recuse himself from hearing the appeals of the four players facing possible suspensions in the bounty drama.
Goodell previously had suspended Vilma for the entire season, New Orleans defensive end Will Smith for four games and former New Orleans players Anthony Hargrove (eight games) and Scott Fujita (three games).
After an arbitration panel asked Goodell to review his decisions, he made slight alterations, cutting one game off Hargrove's suspension, two games off Fujita's suspension and allowing Vilma to be paid while on the physically unable to perform list for the first six weeks of the season.
The players again appealed after Goodell announced the latest punishments. Goodell recused himself from hearing the appeals, announcing that former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue will hear the appeals on Oct. 30.
"I think it's a good step," Vilma said after making his season debut in Sunday's 35-28 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "I think it's a good first step for Paul to be the neutral arbitrator. We expect him to do things in a neutral capacity, which would be to cross examine some of the witnesses, allow us to see the evidence if there is more evidence and be able to have a fair hearing.
"If we do get that, we've asked for transparency from Day 1. We want evidence. We want to face our accusers and be able to cross examine them and we want to know why they said what they said. And then go from there. Hopefully, Paul will offer us that."
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