Players’ lawyers take on ‘bounty’ witness

The Associated PressNovember 30, 2012 

Lawyers for players appealing NFL suspensions in the New Orleans Saints bounties case cross-examined one key witness Thursday. Now they’re supposed to get a chance to confront another central figure: former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue is overseeing the latest round of player appeals; former Saints assistant coach Mike Cerullo was scheduled to take questions Thursday. Lawyers for the league and the NFL Players Association spent more than nine hours in a Washington office building.

“I am keeping with the direction of the commissioner to not talk about this,” NFL senior vice president Adolpho Birch said on his way out.

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 plan to be present today when Williams is scheduled to be there. New Orleans was playing at the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.

Vilma and Smith — along with two former Saints, free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (who spent the 2011 season with the Seahawks) 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 2009-11.

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

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

WELCOME TO ATLANTA

The New Orleans Saints players say their bus was pelted with eggs by airport workers after they touched down in Atlanta for their game Thursday night with the Falcons.

Tight end Jimmy Graham, linebacker Will Herring and quarterback Chase Daniel tweeted about the incident Wednesday night at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Graham wrote on Twitter: “Bus just got egged after landing in ATL by the ramp workers. Classy!”

Daniel tweeted, “Wow … we start getting eggs thrown @ us by airport workers! Guess they do hate us!”

Herring seems amused by the incident.

“First time my bus has been egged by opposing fans!” he tweeted. The game “should be fun!!”

EXTRA POINTS

Packers running back Cedric Benson will remain on injured reserve all season after having surgery on his sprained left foot. Benson was put on IR Oct. 10. … Tyrann Mathieu, an All-America cornerback nicknamed the “Honey Badger” who was kicked off the LSU team before this season for violating team rules, will enter the 2013 NFL draft. … Titans coach Mike Munchak hired veteran coach Tom Moore to help with the offense. … The NFL reduced its fine on Texans defensive end Antonio Smith for kicking Miami’s Richie Incognito to $11,000 from $21,000.

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