Upcoming bounty hearing could poke holes in suspension for players


January 1, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on the sidelines during heir game with Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-US PRESSWIRE

The wait is over for the much anticipated “redo” of the bounty hearings against current and former New Orleans Saints players.  The key to deflating the suspensions is poking a few holes in the testimony of Gregg Williams and Mike Cerullo.

Williams is the former defensive coordinator for the Saints while Cerullo was a defensive assistant.  Both men gave written affidavits that there was a pay for performance system starting in 2009 and that there were bounties placed on opposing players.

When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell conducted the hearings, he never had Williams or Cerullo testify in a capacity where they were cross-examined by legal representatives of suspended players Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita, and Anthony Hargrove.

The investigation, hearings, and appeals appeared on the outside to be a somewhat “kangaroo court” environment and no testimony or evidence was ever released until well after it was over with even the released evidence looking very suspect and rushed.

Now the attorney’s for Vilma and the other players will have the chance to cross-examine Williams and Cerullo since they have been called in by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue who is now the arbitrator and overseeing the appeals hearing.

One thing that ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio points out that will like be attacked is the discrepancies between the two men’s testimonies concerning the actual bounties.

For example Cerullo said Williams was given the alleged $10,000 bounty on former quarterback Kurt Warner by Vilma while Williams says he only received money for former quarterback Brett Farve.

Both men will testify by November 30th at the latest which won’t allow Vilma or Smith to be present since the Saints will play the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta on the night of November 29th.

Although they won’t be able to be there, the main thing is that Williams and Cerullo are finally going to have to give open air testimony which is what Vilma and the other accused players have been asking for all along.