The NFL Players Association asked former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue on Tuesday to prove that he is impartial enough to serve 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
The NFLPA has sent Tagliabue a letter, asking him to clarify his potential conflicts of interest in the issue, NFL.com reported, citing league and union sources.
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 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.