NEW YORK - The NFL players union filed a legal motion Wednesday to have former commissioner Paul Tagliabue removed from hearings on the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recused himself from the appeals hearing of four Saints suspended over the scheme, which saw players given bonuses for inflicting injuries on opponents severe enough to make them leave games.
Goodell named Tagliabue as his replacement last Friday in hearing appeals from Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita.
Tagliabue would have full independence to rule on the matter if he hears the cases, something the union, the National Football League Players Association, made clear with its legal move that it wants to avoid.
The hearing is set for next Tuesday.
Goodell handed down penalties for the players in May that were overturned by an appeal panel last month, prompting Goodell to reissue the punishments with some revisions.
Hargrove, a free agent, had an eight-game ban reduced to seven games. Fujita, now with Cleveland, saw a three-game suspension cut to one game. But Vilma's full-season suspension and Smith's four-game ban were left uchanged.
The NFL has until Friday to respond to the union's motion and the union will have until Monday to reply.
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