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Former NFL Commissioner Tagliabue Postpones Saints Appeals

Former National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue postponed the appeals hearing in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal because of the possibility of the superstorm from Hurricane Sandy.

Tagliabue, 71, commissioner from 1989-2006, had set hearings for Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith, and Jonathan Vilma on Oct. 30.

Tagliabue didn’t set an alternate date for the hearings, said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello in an e-mail last night.

The players’ union and the NFL have been engaged in a lawsuit over whether Tagliabue should be allowed to hear the appeals.

As Hurricane Sandy makes landfall in the northeast late tomorrow or early Oct. 30, the storm will converge with two others racing toward the east, creating a so-called “Perfect Storm,” meteorologists said.

“Because of the large size of the system and the slow motion, it’s going to be a long-lasting even, two to three days of impacts for a lot of people,” said James Franklin, branch chief at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

New York is considering evacuating parts of the city and closing subways, if necessary, said Jerome Hauer, New York State’s homeland security commissioner.

Commissioner Roger Goodell named Tagliabue to hear the appeals after his original penalties were thrown out by an arbitrator who ruled that he overstepped his bounds. The players appealed his new penalties: Vilma’s full-season suspension was unchanged, Hargrove’s was cut one game to seven, Smith’s in half to four games, and Fujita by three to one game.

The NFL said about two dozen Saints players, led by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, paid each other as much as $1,500 for targeting opponents such as Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Brett Favre from 2009 to 2011.

Coach Sean Payton was barred for a year and Williams was suspended indefinitely. Mickey Loomis, the Saints’ general manager, received an eight-game suspension. Those penalties were allowed to stand.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Kercheval in Washington at akuriloff@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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