The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

November 30, 2012

Gregg Williams set to appear at bounties hearing

— WASHINGTON (AP) — Right from the start, the NFL said Gregg Williams was in charge of a pay-for-pain bounty system with the New Orleans Saints.

Now the former defensive coordinator — who told the league about others' involvement — is slated to be cross-examined by lawyers for players appealing their suspensions in the case.

Friday's session is part of the latest round of player appeals overseen by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Former Saints assistant coach Mike Cerullo faced questions Thursday, when lawyers for the league and for players spent more than nine hours in a Washington office building.

Tagliabue has insisted on keeping the contents of the private hearings under wraps. He and various lawyers attending Thursday's session declined to comment afterward.

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith have said they'd be present Friday to hear what Williams has to say. The players planned to travel to Washington after New Orleans' 23-13 loss to the Falcons at Atlanta on Thursday night.

Vilma and Smith — along with two former Saints, free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove and Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita — were suspended by the NFL for the Saints' cash-for-hits program that the league says Williams ran from 2009 to 2011.

Smith, suspended four games, and Vilma, suspended for the entire current season, have been playing while their appeals are pending.

The NFL has described Vilma and Smith as ringleaders of a performance pool designed to knock targeted opponents out of games. The league has sworn statements from Williams and Cerullo saying Vilma offered $10,000 to anyone who knocked quarterback Brett Favre out of the NFC championship game at the end of the 2009 season.

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

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