Vilma upset over hearings schedule

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 23, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 31: Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams of the New Orleans Saints looks on during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Louisiana Superdome on October 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images)
Saints linebacker Jon Vilma says he's disappointed that the new schedule for bounty hearings virtually prevents him from being able to personally confront his accusers. Vilma says he wanted to be present for witness interviews with former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and former defensive assistant Mike Cerullo, who assisted the NFL's investigation into the Saints cash-for-hits pool. According to documents obtained this week by The Associated Press, the NFL is responsible for producing Cerullo in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the same day the Saints play in Atlanta. Williams is scheduled to appear Friday morning. The schedule was set by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who was appointed to oversee the latest round of appeal hearings in the matter. Vilma says he appreciates that Tagliabue is directing the NFL to produce witnesses after the league initially resisted. Yet he cannot help but wonder whether the hearing schedule was designed to discourage him from attempting to attend the hearing sessions featuring the cross-examination of Williams and Cerullo. ''The witness part is good. I think it's (unfortunate) that I'm not going to be there for Cerullo and Williams when they testify,'' Vilma said. ''These people are why I was (initially) suspended for a year, so I would love to be there. I don't know why (Tagliabue) did that, but whatever.'' Even as Tagliabue moves the process forward, a federal judge is still considering arguments by players that Tagliabue should be removed as arbitrator because he is biased in favor of the NFL. Based on the schedule laid out by Tagliabue, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan could choose to rule as early as next week. Vilma and saints defensive end Will Smith were among four players initially suspended for various lengths, but those punishments were vacated. Commissioner Roger Goodell re-issued the suspensions with some modifications, and when the players appealed again, Goodell appointed Tagliabue to oversee the new hearings. Vilma and Smith are still playing pending the outcomes of their appeals and have not served a game of their suspensions. For now, Williams, Cerullo, Vilma, Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt and NFL chief security officer Jeff Miller are the only scheduled witnesses. They are scheduled to appear in a series of hearings in Washington D.C. and New Orleans from Tuesday through Dec. 4. Tagliabue wrote in the document that he expects to rule shortly after the last hearing, which could potentially lead to Vilma and Smith having to serve suspensions late in the regular season. Smith is fighting a four-game suspension. The two other players punished are former Saints: Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita, who is now on injured reserve, and free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove. Players have argued that Cerullo was the NFL's primary source of information about the Saints' performance pool. They've also argued that Cerullo's credibility is in question because he was fired by the club after the 2009-10 season and he had accused the team of preventing him from getting a job on another NFL coaching staff. The NFL investigation concluded that Saints players were rewarded for hits that knocked targeted opposing players out of games from 2009-2011. The league said there was evidence that the Saints placed bounties on star quarterbacks, including Brett Favre, Kurt Warner and Aaron Rodgers. Saints players and coaches have acknowledged they had a pool that paid rewards for big plays such as interceptions, forced fumbles, sacks and big hits, similar to programs other teams have had across the league for generations. However, they say no one ever intended to injure an opposing player.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Grizzlies want Kevin Durant in free agency

WATCH: Karl-Anthony Towns throws down monster dunk

Dos Anjos: McGregor will 'break like a girl' at UFC 196

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell hit in groin by LeBron pass

Kobe Bryant has great response to Tyronn Lue story

Report: St. Louis Blues no longer interested in Jonathan Drouin

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Doc Rivers: Warriors have 'swagger' of defending champion

Damian Lillard added as a finalist for 2016 U.S. Olympic Team

Celtics legend Paul Pierce prepares for what ‘could be’ his last game in Boston

Free-agent WR Josh Morgan accidentally shot himself, charged with crime

Jon Beason retires after nine NFL seasons

Brewers Association sends Peyton Manning case of craft beer

Fighter says sex before fight partly to blame for loss

Kevin McHale: James Harden being out of shape hurt Rockets early

WATCH: Kevin Love re-injures left shoulder

Johnny Manziel’s grandpa on ex-girlfriend: ‘The girl has her problems’

Andy Dalton reunited with missing luggage thanks to social media

Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson used to soak his ankles in urine

Why Tom Thibodeau needs to be in New York

Defensemen in high demand as NHL trade deadline looms

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Security guard indicted for assaulting University of Houston football fan

The LeBron-Kobe rivalry and Finals matchup that never was

Mario Williams recognizes Bills may release him

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker