Timing of Gregg Williams affidavit raises plenty of questions


Following Monday’s three-hour marathon meeting between Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and Commissioner Roger Goodell, someone leaked to the media an affidavit signed by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, which states that Vilma offered $10,000 to anyone who knocked former Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC title game.

At that’s precisely what it says, at paragraph No. 12 on pages 5 to 6 of the document.  (It’s technically a “declaration,” not an affidavit.  Both are signed under penalty of perjury, but unlike an affidavit a declaration isn’t notarized.)

Its timing raises many fair questions, even if the NFL would prefer that the questions not be asked.  Amazingly, Williams signed the document three days ago, on September 14, 2012.

So here are the questions and issues that Vilma’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, likely will be preparing to ask and/or raise.

How did this declaration come to be?

Williams, whom the league previously identified as someone who corroborated the offer, presumably hadn’t previously reduced his words to writing.  Why didn’t he?

Who wrote the declaration?

The declaration consists of a clean, crisp, logical narrative — the kind of document lawyers routinely write.  So who wrote it?  Williams’ lawyer, based on a meeting with Williams?  Or the NFL’s lawyers, based on whatever Williams told the league (or, possibly, the league’s interpretation thereof)?

Why was it written now?

The September 7 ruling of an internal appeals board vacated the suspensions of Vilma and three other players on technical grounds.  The decision gave the league a do-over, and the decision to harvest a declaration from Williams three days before the meeting with Vilma proves that the NFL opted to embrace its mandated Mulligan.

What promises were made to Williams, expressly or implicitly?

It’s fair to ask whether and to what extent Williams has received anything in return for his cooperation.  Did the league hint that he’ll be more likely to be reinstated if he signs the declaration?

Will Williams testify at the internal appeal hearing?

Assuming the NFL once again suspends Vilma, an internal appeals hearing will be conducted.  And it will be impossible to properly probe the nooks and crannies of the Williams declaration unless Williams testifies.  So Williams surely will have to testify, and he will have to be exposed to cross examination.  Otherwise, the declaration will be worthless.

What other declarations have been obtained?

The league possibly didn’t stop with a declaration from Williams.  The league possibly has revisited the question of whether its previously undisclosed whistleblower (widely believed to be former Saints assistant coach Mike Cerullo) should be “outed” as a witness, given that the undisclosed whistleblower presumably has also corroborated the Vilma offer.

Will Williams ever coach again?

Apart from the cartoonish remarks from Williams prior to the January 2012 playoff game against the 49ers, Williams’ execution of a declaration will make it difficult if not impossible for any NFL player to ever respect, listen to, or follow Williams.  Thus, even if the NFL reinstates him after the 2012 season, it will be difficult for the Rams or any other NFL team to employ him as a coach.  At best, Williams will be relegated to the status of consultant, perhaps helping his son, Blake, with game plans and other strategic matters.

What happens next?

Commissioner Roger Goodell will issue a decision regarding the suspensions, and the decision will be appealed, to Goodell.  His final decision will surely be challenged in court, before Judge Helen G. Berrigan.

Will the declaration hold up in court?

That’s perhaps the best question of all.  Vilma’s lawyer undoubtedly will argue that the league should have created and shared the Williams declaration months ago, and that any effort to cobble something together now is inherently suspect and procedurally defective.

In hindsight, Vilma’s lawyer should have declined to meet with Goodell, taking instead the position that the official record of evidence is closed, and that Goodell must merely make a new decision clarifying whether he was issuing the suspensions for conduct detrimental to the game (which he has the sole authority to do under the labor deal), or whether he was punishing the players for salary-cap violations (which he does not have the authority to do).

What should the other players do?

Saints defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and free-agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove are due to meet with Goodell on Tuesday.  They should consider refusing to meet, taking the position that the NFL is stuck with the evidence that already has been produced (or not produced), and that Goodell should simply reissue the decisions.

We’ll find out soon enough whether that happens.  For now, though, it’s clear to us that the Williams declaration would have been far more valuable and relevant if it had been written and signed back in February or March.  Though there would still be questions, there wouldn’t be as many — and they wouldn’t be as compelling.

51 responses to “Timing of Gregg Williams affidavit raises plenty of questions

  1. Really? These guys didn’t have sense enough to have done this 6 months ago? Now I know why we have Replacement Ref’s….

  2. Williams is a bum. Could’ve taken the 5th, instead he tried to save his own behind and in turn assured himself no player will ever trust him or follow him into battle again.

  3. I don’t find it wierd… they aren’t legally bound to take written statements in their investigations, I dare anyone to site where this non-legal entity had to achieve the same burden of proof necessary in our legal system. Also, while this minor detail about timing, might seem like proof of a conspiracy, wasn’t his acknowledgement given months ago, so what if they just not got it in writing.

  4. Not so cut and dry as all the Goodell minions thought.

    Do you sheep ever think of questioning authority? Or do you just fall for everything anybody famous ever says because its what you want to hear?

  5. Can anyone else corroborate what Gregg Williams indicates in his declaration ? The declaration should be subject to examination for veracity. Why believe Williams? This becomes similar to the Roger Clemens standoff where one man accused Clemens of HGH use, Clemens denied it and therefore was accused of not telling the truth to congress. An independent lawyer who was paid by Major League Baseball ran with it using one persons uncorroborated testimony. Wow!

  6. Just because he signed the sworn deceleration a few days ago doesn’t mean that he hadn’t admired this to the league since the beginning. The only difference is that it is now a legal signed deceleration and not just an interview with league officials. The only reason the league did this was because of the court decision and the advice of their lawyers.

  7. Why would Williams lie?!!

    Seriously folks. Sometimes you have to admit reality.

    Read the affidavit. He states he gave the NFL this info prior to the 14th.

    Why else would the NFL subject themselves to the scrutiny of suspending several key parts of a very big franchise for them presently?

    Seriously folks. WAKE UP!

    Williams has no reason to lie, no. He did before, but he finally did the right thing. Eventually.

  8. This article demonstrates all thats wrong with our society. Pointing out all the technicalities that could lead to Vilma getting off. Pendulum has swung too far in western civilization.

  9. Signing the document would do nothing but ensure he never coaches again… What team would be willing to hire a guy with such black stains on his resume…

    Fans won’t respect him for the program he ran, and players won’t respect him for being a “rat”.

    Maybe he knew he was toast either way and just wanted the truth out there…

  10. Goodell is the supreme puppet master. I wish he were my accountant.
    This all stinks to high heaven. I’m sure the judge will have questions for Mr Williams. I bet he takes the 5th then.

  11. Say this was true (which it obviously wasn’t).

    Now…where is the “evidence” that Goodell warned them and they did it again?

    Remember the real reason why the Saints were punished, idiots.

    But don’t worry. Goodell probably secured that “declaration” this morning, right?

  12. Does Brees still need his proof?

    Bottom line is all the Saints lied. They were all in on it. All of them knew. Who cares though, the officials carried them to the Super Bowl not their cheap shots.

  13. All I know is, now that the Saints aren’t cheating they can’t win a game
    You think not having a head coach or have the coaching staff has anything to do with that?

  14. It’s cute seeing all these Vikings fans thinking they’re gonna get their asterisk or perhaps even the Lombardi Trophy outright.

    You’re so hard up for something you couldn’t get in four tries in 50 years that you’ll take the word of the man you vilified after his 49ers speech over 8 sworn affidavits that it didn’t happen.

  15. I’m just happy that karma caught up with the Saints 0-2 and getting worse.

    Saints 2009 Super Bowl champions*

  16. nowillrepeat says: Sep 17, 2012 8:57 PM

    All I know is, now that the Saints aren’t cheating they can’t win a game
    You think not having a head coach or have the coaching staff has anything to do with that?


    They are without TWO coaches. Payton also didn’t call the defense.

    Excuse factories tonight.

  17. “over 8 sworn affidavits that it didn’t happen.”

    How many of them still rely on the NFL for their income? Hmm, it’s almost like they are motivated to lie?

    Williams is out of a job, affidavit or not.

  18. The thing I keep coming back to is what a wonderful story for the NFL the Saints were. They were the darlings of the NFL and saviors of a city, the NFL had no vested interest in tearing that down. Actually it was the exact opposite, I think that is why it took the NFL so long to come down on them, they were warned in 2010. There had to a profound amount of reason to bring down one of the best stories in my lifetime in the NFL. “Bobby give me my money”, after the hit on Favre, the Williams speech before the 49ers game, the NFL warning them in 2010, there is enough evidence to put these guys away and the guys are delaying their executions with their appeals, exploiting nuances and technicalities, but the needle is coming for these guys. They did this, deep down we all know it.

  19. Shouldn’t Saints fans be more concerned with setting forth with litigation against Reggie Bush for impersonating a rb in Nawlins’?

  20. Sad when the world around you (sports world anyway) comes crashing down.

    You still have the Super Bowl.

    Anyone with a brain knows the Saints were the best team that year. Bounty or not, talent is talent.

  21. Still got our rings. Enjoy the speculation folks. All I know is that was one heck of a season. Refs could’ve called all these illegal hits had they existed. Who dat!

  22. Williams signed a affadivit saying it happened. Vilma testified in court it didn’t. One of these two committed a felony.

  23. Lets get the guy in prison on a life sentence to sign a declaration against his get away driver because we want to charge him with speeding… Seriously??? How can you use evidence obtained 6 months after you suspend someone? I think Smith, Fujita and Hargrove should get 40 affidavit’s signed by every player in that room saying Greg Williams is the only person ever to offer anything.

  24. Why would GW lie? He’s indefinitely suspended and needs Goodell to reinstate him, genius. It’s blatantly obvious why he would sign anything Goodell put in front of him, LOL.

  25. Geauxjay, the bottom line is, your team is a dishonorable group of liars and cheats. If the Saints would have lost the championship game against a team that had bounties on Brees and the refs in their pocket, Saints fans would be the biggest bunch of poor me, victims, just like the rest of Louisiana. The Saints have legitimately won the same number of Super Bowls as the Vikings. None. * that’s what your Saints deserve.

  26. Interesting situation, no?

    Basically, you’re looking at a situation that will likely turn into a groundbreaking legal ruling about the role of discipline in sport.

    Should the game of “whose affidavits win?” between Vilma and the league take its natural course, Vilma will be on the winning side, by sheer mass. That outcome then creates a situation where the league will have to explain to the world how their employees differ from employees everywhere else, in that they can “talk Sh*t about them” in a public arena and there are no consequences. Because that is what the league will have been shown to have done, in court, if Vilma’s claims stand up. And defending this behaviour is another fight that the league will lose. Which would raise the question of “What is the standard of behaviour a league must have towards its players, with regards to their basic human rights (ie. not to be defamed)”.

    So, in essence, what is going to come out of this is that leagues aren’t free to impose whatever discipline they want to upon their players. That these disciplines must conform to some basic social standards.

    This is a pretty important case.

  27. GW was bullied into signing that false decleration…Vilma has 9 affidavits saying he didn’t pledge 10K bounty on favre…9 to 1 in favor of Vilma…do the math folks

  28. It was Vilma who committed the felony. Same thing that the govt went after Marion Jones, Barry Bonds & Roger Clemens for.

  29. Curiously, he named Loomis as knowledgeable about it. No word about Payton.

    What did Payton know, nd when did he know it?

    If true, I find hard to believe that Loomis, Williams, or Vilma and other players named could ever be allowed to work for the NFL in any capacity. Baseball got it right with Rose.

  30. It doesn’t make sense for Williams to lie. Putting pen to paper has just ensured that he will never coach in the NFL in ANY capacity in the future. No player would play for him and no owner would bring disrepute on his franchise by hiring him. Williams knows this, he has nothing to gain now. Vilma is going back on a well-deserved suspension.

  31. If you believe that the NFL made an explicit promise to Williams for his signed statement then you are very naive. The threat posed by the indefinite suspension is all that Williams needed to sign. I am convinced there were no promises made because none were needed.

  32. Goodell is not to be trusted. Neither is Greg Williams. Their word is not enough to hang a man or an entire team. Actions on the field is the only truth that matters.

  33. Pretty low for Williams to rat out Vilma here. He stands to gain nothing, if teams will willing to look past the bounty controversy I doubt any team will be willing to hire a rat on their team. His chances of landing an NFL job are now slim to none.

    Say what you will about the bounty and Vilma but it’s the lowest of the low that turn on their own in desperation.

  34. NFL needs to be totally dismantled and then rebuilt under a completely new leadership that is apart from both players and owners.

    Goodell has screwed up absolutely everything he has touched, and he has made the NFL into a laughing stock.

  35. I thought there were more phases to accepting a loss than just denial? Saints fans could literally have Vilma come out and say “I lied, I had players lie for me (because we all know, snitches get stitches) and I did put a bounty on Favre,” and they would still say it’s a conspiracy and Goddell forced him to lie or lose his job.

    I guess what I’m saying is, whether or not Saints fans want to believe it, the world doesn’t revolve around the Saints, and the more theoretical conspiracies you spew, the more people tend to roll their eyes at your fan base. Just sit back and enjoy your 6-10 season so you can blame that on Goddell too.

  36. rockthered: But he didn’t say that, he made a sworn statement to the contrary. Just want to make sure I understand that you believe the sworn statement by Williams is infallible, but the sworn statements by Vilma, Vitt, and Brees are not. And we’re in denial?

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