Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has denied a motion to recuse himself as the arbitrator for the appeals hearing of those current and former New Orleans Saints players who were disciplined in the bounty program as defined by current commissioner Roger Goodell, according to league sources.
Tagliabue informed the players' attorneys of his decision, stating he will move forward with establishing a date for the hearing and also formalizing the process on which the appeal will be heard. Sources said discussions of the process itself will consume "a fair amount of time" without a specific time frame yet.
The hearing is scheduled for Nov. 20, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
In deciding to hear the case, Tagliabue dismissed the argument of partiality players had made in their motion, citing that he is not only the former commissioner but also is a member of the law firm that represents Goodell in legal matters before a New Orleans federal court.
The players have asked the court to recuse Tagliabue as the appeals arbitrator but there has been no ruling on that motion.
As the two sides discuss the forthcoming appeals process, the players remain adamant that Taglaibue makes available witnesses such as former Saints assistants Gregg Williams and Mike Cerullo, who provided declarations the NFL used as evidence to discipline the players.
The process could continue throughout November, which would allow Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith to continue playing until Tagliabue renders a decision or the court intervenes on their behalf.