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Saints "bounty" appeals hearing postponed

Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue answers questions during a special league meeting to select a new commissioner in Northbrook, Illinoi
Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue answers questions during a special league meeting to select a new commissioner in Northbrook, Illinoi

(Reuters) - Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has postponed Tuesday's scheduled appeals on the New Orleans Saints bounty case, the league's official website reported on Saturday.

No reason was given but the appeals were set to be heard in Washington D.C., which is bracing itself for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.

Four Saints players - Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Will Smith and Anthony Hargrove - were initially suspended in May for their roles in allegedly deliberately trying to injure opponents for bonus money.

Having already asked for current commissioner Roger Goodell step down from the hearings, the players' union and players have filed a motion asking that Tagliabue also recuse himself from the case because of what they say is a conflict of interest.

They want a neutral arbitrator to be appointed by the courts, however NFL lawyers yesterday filed a motion in U.S. District Court in New Orleans arguing that Tagliabue should be allowed to hear the appeals.

The initial suspensions were vacated in September by a three-member appeals panel, which asked Goodell to clarify his reasons for the suspensions.

The commissioner then issued new punishments, which are the subject of the new appeal. Linebacker Vilma and defensive end Smith will play this weekend while the appeals process continues.

(Reporting by Ben Everill in Los Angeles, editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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