The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Vikings News

December 3, 2012

Tagliabue, Saints continue bounty hearings

(Continued)

Childress had informed the NFL after that game he'd heard from former player Jimmy Kennedy that the Saints had a bounty on Favre. Childress is currently the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator.

The NFL also has identified Kennedy as one of its witnesses, but Kennedy has said the league is lying about his statements. He added that the league irreparably damaged his reputation by its "shoddy, careless, shameful so-called investigation."

According to the NFL, Kennedy heard about the bounty from Hargrove, who has also denied knowledge of a bounty program.

Tagliabue has insisted that the contents of the appeals process remain private, and all of the hearings have been behind closed doors in private law offices.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued the initial suspensions, which also included a full-season ban for Saints head coach Sean Payton.

Lawsuits brought by Vilma and the NFL Players Association to challenge Goodell's handling of the case, including his decision in October to appoint Tagliabue as the arbitrator for the appeals, are pending in federal court in New Orleans.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan gave the parties until Monday to answer questions about whether the NFL's collective bargaining agreement prevents a commissioner from handing out discipline for legal contact, and whether the CBA's passages about detrimental conduct are "ambiguous, hence unenforceable."

The NFLPA responded Monday afternoon, saying the labor agreement does not give the commissioner authority to punish players for legal hits. The union added that if Tagliabue interprets the agreement otherwise, the provisions pertaining to the commissioner's authority in the CBA would be unenforceable.

In its response to Berrigan's request, the NFL said players were not punished for on-field actions. The league said the players' suspensions resulted from meeting or locker room pledges, rewarding injury-causing hits and lying to NFL investigators about the incentive pool.

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