Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/12/12
With the New Orleans Saints' player suspensions overturned Tuesday on appeal, the case moved into the blame phase Wednesday. Saints quarterback Drew Brees lashed out at commissioner Roger Goodell for issuing the initial player punishments that wound up being lifted by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Meanwhile, according to numerous reports that cite the Associated Press, including one on NFL Network from New Orleans, former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams pointed the finger of blame at his former colleague, Joe Vitt, for the continuation of the team's bounty program. Williams reportedly told Tagliabue he tried to convince his fellow coaches to stop the system of payments for targeting opposing players for injuries or hard hits, but that Vitt forcefully disagreed. Brees told NFL.com that Williams and alleged whistleblower Mike Cerullo were merely "disgruntled employees." Credibility was a popular topic at the Saints' facility. "Right now, the league office and commissioner Goodell have very little to no credibility with us as players and some of the fans," Brees said. "The NFL, through this whole process, including commissioner Goodell, has been all about an outcome as opposed to a fair process. That's what we fought for. Finally, we got that. "What I'd like to see is a level of accountability on the part of the NFL and commissioner Goodell in regards to the mishandling of this entire situation. We as players are held to a strict code of conduct both on and off the field, and we have to be held accountable to that, as it should be. And I think they should be held to the same standard." Goodell didn't directly respond to Brees' attack, but he expressed his disappointment with Tagliabue overturning the suspensions. Speaking at the league's owners meeting in Irving, Texas, Goodell said, "I think his report made it quite clear, that he holds the management and the coaches responsible. My personal view is I hold everyone responsible. We have to have a personal responsibility here. Player health and safety is an important issue in this league, and it's going to take everyone. ... I fundamentally disagree that this is something that lies just with coaches and management. "I think when there's conduct detrimental, there should be associated discipline with that, and that's where we disagree. But I respect his decision and we're moving on." Vitt, speaking before Williams' accusation was reported, wouldn't comment on the ruling, saying only he felt good for the players. Williams is serving an indefinite suspension from the league. He left the Saints for the St. Louis Rams before he received his ban. Vitt sat out six games as punishment in the case, then took over as interim head coach in place of Sean Payton, who received a one-year suspension. Tagliabue overturned the suspensions of Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita, placing blame for the bounty system on the coaching staff instead of the players.
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