It had been 10 months since New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith were face to face with their former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams - a span that included NFL suspensions for all three in connection with what a league investigation determined was a cash-for-hits bounty program.
For about four hours on Friday, Vilma and Smith sat and watched while their lawyers cross-examined Williams during a hearing that is part of the players' latest appeals of their punishments.
''We got to hear what Gregg had to say,'' Smith said afterward. ''We wanted to make sure we were there just to hear him out.''
Smith described the hearing, the third this week in Washington overseen by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, as ''peaceful'' and ''not awkward.''
Smith, suspended four games, and Vilma, suspended for the entire current season, have been allowed back on the field while their appeals are pending, and both flew into town after playing in the Saint...