Originally written on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 10/21/14

NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 09: Jonathan Vilma talks with Gregg Williams of the New Orleans Saints during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Louisiana Superdome on September 9, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (AP) Right from the start, the NFL said Gregg Williams was in charge of a pay-for-pain bounty system with the New Orleans Saints. Now the former defensive coordinator - who told the league about others' involvement - is slated to be cross-examined by lawyers for players appealing their suspensions in the case. Friday's session is part of the latest round of player appeals overseen by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Former Saints assistant coach Mike Cerullo faced questions Thursday, when lawyers for the league and for players spent more than nine hours in a Washington office building. 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'd be present Friday to hear what Williams has to say. The players planned to travel to Washington after New Orleans' 23-13 loss to the Falcons at Atlanta on Thursday night. Vilma and Smith - along with two former Saints, free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove 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 to 2011. Smith, suspended four games, and Vilma, suspended for the entire current season, have been playing while their appeals are pending. The NFL has described Vilma and Smith as ringleaders of a performance pool designed to knock targeted opponents out of games. The league has sworn statements from Williams and Cerullo saying Vilma offered 10,000 to anyone who knocked quarterback Brett Favre out of the NFC championship game at the end of the 2009 season. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued the initial suspensions, which also included a full-season ban for Saints head coach Sean Payton. Lawsuits brought by Vilma and the NFL Players Association to challenge Goodell's handling of the case, including his decision in October to appoint Tagliabue as the arbitrator for the appeals, are pending in federal court in New Orleans. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan gave the parties until Monday to answer questions about whether the NFL's collective bargaining agreement prevents a commissioner from handing out discipline for legal contact, and whether the CBA's passages about detrimental conduct are "ambiguous, hence unenforceable." In March, the NFL announced that its investigation showed the Saints put together a bounty pool of up to 50,000 to reward game-ending injuries inflicted on opponents. "Knockouts" were worth 1,500 and "cart-offs" 1,000 - with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs, the league said. According to the league, the pay-for-pain program was administered by Williams, with Payton's knowledge. At the time, Williams apologized for his role, saying: "It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it." Later that month, Payton became the first head coach suspended by the league for any reason - banned for all of this season without pay - and Williams was suspended indefinitely. Williams was known for his aggressive, physical defenses as a coordinator for Tennessee, Washington, Jacksonville and New Orleans, and during his time as head coach of Buffalo. In January, he was hired by St. Louis to lead their defense.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

C-USA hired PR firm to help Marshall’s playoff chances

Wilson denies rumored Harvin rift, blames media for scrutiny

Report: Cowboys could limit DeMarco Murray's touches

Lakers announce Steve Nash to miss season with back issues

Is Mack Brown the best option for SMU?

Jeremy Kerley on new contract: 'Bentleys for everybody'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Buss: Any FA who won’t play with Kobe ‘probably a loser’

NFL to start airing its own anti-domestic violence PSAs

Ex-Bronco John Boyett punched cabbie, told cops to call Elway

Former NFL QB still feels effects of concussions every day

Robert Klemko given four-week suspension from The MMQB

Michael Vick: Percy Harvin won't be a monster here

NFL teams facing potential must-win scenarios in Week 8

WATCH: Jeremy Lin poses as Adidas employee for prank

WATCH: Peyton screams at fans to 'shut the f- up!'

Father auctioning off infant son's soccer club allegiance

Love thanks T'Wolves fans in essay for not burning his jersey

WATCH: Browns WR 'kicks out' son over favorite player snub

Memorabilia dealer wants Todd Gurley reinstated immediately

Aaron Rodgers gave girlfriend Olivia Munn a 'special ring'?

The 10 college football programs with most to gain in Week 9

Most disappointing potential dynasties of divisional era

WATCH: OHL hockey coach goes off on reporter: ‘F*** you!’

PK Subban as Michael Jackson at Canadiens' Halloween party

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!

NFL teams facing must-win scenarios in Week 8

Programs with a lot on the line this week

Wilson denies rumored Harvin rift

Lakers: Steve Nash out for season

Is Mack Brown SMU's best option?

Are sports leagues finally getting serious about domestic violence?

Brian Urlacher rips Jay Cutler

On Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and embracing newfound roles

Top NFL storylines: Week 8

Kiffin's mom worried for son's safety

Report: Goodell will have to testify

Penguins do 'O Canada' following tragedy

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.