Vilma happy Tagliabue will hear appeals

TAMPA, Fla. -- After making his season debut in a 35-28 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma said he’s happy with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to recuse himself from hearing the appeals of player suspensions.

Goodell decided to let former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue hear the appeals of Vilma, New Orleans defensive end Will Smith and former New Orleans players Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove on Oct. 30.

“I think it’s a good step,’’ said Vilma, who spent the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list. “I think it’s a good first step for Paul to be the neutral arbitrator. We expect him to do things in a neutral capacity, which would be to cross-examine some of the witnesses, allow us to see the evidence if there is more evidence and be able to have a fair hearing. If we do get that, we’ve asked for transparency from Day 1. We want evidence. We want to face our accusers and be able to cross-examine them and we want to know why they said what they said. And then go from there. Hopefully, Paul will offer us that.’’