The National Football League Players Association said Wednesday that it will fight ex-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue hearing the appeals of the four players suspended in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
In a statement Wednesday, the NFL Players Association said it will file a motion that asks Tagliabue to recuse himself due to a "conflict of interest."
On Tuesday, the NFLPA asked Paul Tagliabue to prove that he was impartial enough to act as the objective arbitrator in bounty punishment appeal hearings for Saints defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent Anthony Hargrove.
Tagliabue was appointed last week when Commissioner Roger Goodell agreed to recuse himself from the appeals process in the Saints' bounty case.
U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan of New Orleans gave the NFLPA until 6 p.m. ET Wednesday to file motion to ask Tagliabue to recuse himself, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. ESPN had reported the union is planning to meet that deadline.
The basis for the objection includes Taglibue's employment at Covington and Burling, a law firm that represents the NFL in the bounty litigation. Tagliabue is also considered a potential witness based on the NFL condoning programs that toed the line of "pay for performance" in the 1990s when he was the league's commissioner.
The hearing is scheduled for Oct. 30.
Goodell re-issued bounty punishment for all four players after an appeals panel asked him to review the initial suspensions announced in March.
---Dallas Cowboys inside linebacker Sean Lee was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a toe injury, and linebacker Ernie Sims was signed to take his place.
Lee will have surgery on his right big toe next week and is expected to be fully recovered for 2013.
Head coach Jason Garrett told reporters that the initially thought was that Lee would be out 4-6 weeks, but a second MRI on Tuesday confirmed extensive damage.
"Injuries are part of the NFL, as you know, in Dallas and 31 other cities," Garrett said. "We've had them. Everybody's had them. You have to deal with them through the season.
"Sean Lee is an outstanding football player. I can't tell you how well he's been playing since he's been our starting inside linebacker. He's the leader of the defense. He makes the calls. He plays the right way in practice. He plays the right way in the game. He defends the run. He defends the pass. He's a bell cow for us and a guy that really, really everybody on our defense and football team looks up to. He goes about it the right way and he's an outstanding person as well. We love everything about him. It's obviously unfortunate and disappointing that he had the injury."
---Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams
had surgery on his left wrist, the team announced Wednesday.
Williams missed practice and didn't attend team meetings Wednesday while visiting a specialist to determine what to do about his nagging wrist injury.
"The update on Mario is he had a procedure done to relieve some discomfort in his wrist and we expect him back for practice next week," coach Chan Gailey told the team's web site. "That's all I know at this point."
Williams signed a six-year, $100 million contract with Buffalo in March, and was hurt during the final week of the preseason. The Bills (3-4) are off Sunday, then return Nov. 4 to play at Houston, Williams' former team.
It's unclear whether Williams will be healthy enough to return for that game. The Bills defense ranks last against the run, and has allowed a combined 937 yards rushing over the past four games.
---Hall of Famer Warren Moon believes some of the criticism directed at Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is racially motivated, the ex-quarterback told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday.
Newton has struggled along with his team, and it has led to the dismissal of general manager Marty Hurney. Moon feels that Newton is receiving too much blame.
"I think a lot of this is because so many people want to say 'I told you so' about him but couldn't because he was so good last year," Moon told Yahoo! Sports. "I think people are overreacting. How can he be a bust? He just had one of the great years a rookie has ever had, and now he can't play? Come on."
Newton has been chastised in particular for the public frustration he shows occasionally during games and during postgame conferences. He was also singled out by Panthers receiver Steve Smith for sulking on the sidelines during a lopsided Week 3 loss to the Giants.
Moon has taken exception because he feels Newton's demeanor is compared to other black quarterbacks.
"I heard somebody compare him to Vince Young. It's the same old crap -- it's always a comparison of one black to another black. I get tired of it. I get tired of defending it," Moon told Yahoo! Sports. "If you want to compare him to someone because of his demeanor, compare him to Jay Cutler. There are a lot of guys who whine and moan. Cam's not biting anybody's head off or pushing his linemen (as the Bears quarterback did during a Week 2 loss to the Panthers). He's just disgruntled, and not handling losing well, because, think about it, he basically didn't lose in college."
"I don't think Cam's as bad as Cutler, because Cutler looks like he doesn't give a damn sometimes, or he's yelling and cussing at someone. Cam, he just looks down when they're losing."
---Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams will serve 30 days under home arrest after the season for driving under the influence.
Williams was sentenced Wednesday, but told by a judge that he didn't have to start serving it until Feb. 7, 2013. Prosecutors had sought a one-month prison term.
In addition to the ankle monitored home arrest, Williams must also serve two years of probation, have his sobriety monitored and attend alcohol education classes and therapy, which are standard punishments for second-time offenders. He also must perform 56 hours of community service and pay $2,390 in court costs.
"We thought it was a fair and appropriate sentence given all the circumstances," said Williams' lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, who immediately filed an appeal.
Williams was also suspended for three games by the NFL for his August conviction. This was in addition to a just completed six-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
---Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said he will hire a consultant to help the team find the right person to replace fired general manager Marty Hurney, according to a Charlotte Observer report.
The consultant will "examine the football operations," attend practices, and watch film, according to the report.
The consultant will likely bring a number of prospective candidates that reflect his business relationships. The team's next GM will also have a say in determining the fate of head coach Ron Rivera.
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