Players Reject Settlement Offer, Tagliabue Decision Expected Tuesday

Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who was appointed to hear the appeal of the suspension of current and former Saints players, is expected to reach his decision by Tuesday, ESPN is reporting citing “league sources.”  Sources further report that the players rejected a settlement offer on Friday which would have required some acknowledgement of culpability.

Tagliabue was appointed to hear the appeal following complaints by the players of a conflict of interest for current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who was originally going to hear the appeal, an appeal of a decision that he issued in the first place.  The players are said to be “reasonably satisfied” with Tagliabue’s handling of the hearings so far.

The offer that was allegedly rejected on Friday would have reduced suspensions in exchange for Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma dropping his defamation lawsuit against Goodell, and having Vilma acknowledge that Tagliabue was free to set the suspension for Vilma.  The settlement offer did not appear to set a reduced suspension for Vilma, but just left the issue in Tagliabue’s hands.

The offer makes no sense from Vilma’s perspective, so it isn’t surprising that it was rejected.  The offer essentially asked Vilma to drop his hammer and “trust” in the process that Tagliabue would implement.  It offered nothing to Vilma in exchange for dropping the suit – the appeal decision is already in Tagliabue’s hands.

There is a bit of a Mexican standoff, as Vilma’s lawsuit could create a significant liability for Goodell.  Mexican standoffs are resolved when both parties agree to drop their weapons, not by asking one part to drop theirs and “trust in the process.”

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