Vilma, Smith will miss Cerullo’s testimony, but be present for Williams’

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Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue intends to proceed this week with the hearing in the bounty suspension appeals, even though Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and Saints defensive end Will Smith will be playing in Atlanta on Thursday night.

And while that won’t keep Tagliabue from allowing former Saints assistant coach Mike Cerullo to testify on Thursday without Vilma and Smith present, Smith said Tuesday that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is scheduled to testify on Friday — and Vilma and Smith are scheduled to attend.

“Any time someone accuses you of doing stuff, they’re nowhere to be found,” Smith said, via Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.  “They’re in Bangkok or they’re across the world.  You want to be able to be there to cross examine those guys because they had a chance to cross examine us.  We want to make sure what they’re saying is what they’re saying and not someone else’s words.”

It’s unclear whether Williams will show up.  He possibly is trying to hinge his testimony on the league’s willingness to accelerate his reinstatement hearing from February to December.

Though Tagliabue has no subpoena power, he can refuse to consider Williams’ sworn statement if Williams refuses to show up and answer questions about it.  As a practical matter, the failure of Williams to show should raise a red flag for Tagliabue.

Saints safety Roman Harper was happy to hear about the coming testimony of Cerullo.  “Cerullo is going to testify?” Harper said, via Holder.   “Great!  I can’t wait!  Are we going to talk about who he is as a person?  We should do that too.  I’m going to leave it at that.”

The fact that Cerullo will testify without Vilma or Smith present gives the players another argument to raise when attacking Tagliabue’s decision in court.  Though their interests will be represented by counsel, it’s critical that the parties facing suspension be present to hear the testimony and assist counsel in coming up with follow-up questions.

20 responses to “Vilma, Smith will miss Cerullo’s testimony, but be present for Williams’

  1. PFT has brought up Williams having leverage several times, but what about the aspect that if Williams doesn’t show, he won’t ever get reinstated? That’s where the heavy lifting is.

  2. Very sneaky and convient for the league to have Cerullo’s hearing on the day saints play the falcons on thur.nite…Have Gregg Williams testify on friday…Goodell is a pure coward for these moves…I hope this sham will end asap so we can move on!

  3. Tag is a retired NFL exec, who is getting a retirement persion from the NFL. How do you think he’s gonna vote?

    This is another smoke and mirrors trick at pretending to provide justice. What the NFL is really saying is that they should not have to abide by the law, because they are a business.

  4. These guys are so pathetic its not even funny. Vilma showed his true colors (again) with his dirty play Sunday. When these guys lose and run out of options, send the evidence over to every PD where they played in 2009 so they can enjoy some time in the slam.

  5. None of these guys can be put under oath. This organization has lied about the level of each individuals involvement since day one. There is not a trustworthy one in the whole lot.

  6. Tag’s law firm actually represents the NFL in a number of legal matters. So, naturally, Goodell would appointed his own lawyer to be the judge in his case. Wouldn’t you like to have your own well paid lawyer be the judge in your case?

    The outcome is assured, paid for in advance. All the rest – the testimony – is just window dressing.

    I still don’t know why Tags hasn’t been cited with ethics violations due to his conflict of interest.

  7. Things I’ve read about Cerullo situation on PFT, other media outlets, and in Vilma’s court filings:

    1. He was mad about being given a cubic zirconia Superbowl ring.
    2. He was missing work.
    3. He lied to the team about why he was missing work.
    4. They fired him and had to call the police to remove him from the building.
    5. He swore revenge on the team, and Joe Vitt in particular.
    6. Joe Vitt is plainly listed on the “bounty ledger”, strangely, the league did not think there was enough evidence to punish Vitt for actually placing bounties (he was punished for allowing them to happen).
    7. Curello waited many, many months to report the Saints. In fact, he only reported the Saints after it was clear that no NFL team was going to hire him.
    8. When he did report the team, his “whistleblower” email reads like something some would would write while drunk or with a borderline semi-literate writing ability.
    9. Parts of Curello’s and William’s sworn statements contradict each other.

    Curello (and the concussion lawsuit) is the very reason Saints fans feel like their team has been railroaded. I am anxious to see how his time on the stand goes.

  8. @bucrightoff, How was Vilma dirty? The WR tried to crack block him, Vilma ran him over and the guy busted his ACL. If you want to talk dirty lets talk Dashon Goldson hit on Colston. There was no play on the ball, his only intent was to take out Colston plain and simple.

  9. I continue to believe that with the possible exception of Fujita, who may emerge from this without any suspension, the player suspensions will to some extent be upheld by Paul Tagliabue. If Tagliabue finds Cerullo’s and Williams’ testimony credible, then I think that along with the other evidence—however circumstantial—may provide a sufficient basis to affirm (in part, at least) the discipline meted out by Roger Goodell.

    Clearly, the league is bending over backwards here to be fair. Consequently there’s a greater chance that any player objections (i.e., “evident partiality” on the part of the appeals hearing officer, the lack of “industrial due process,” etc.) regarding the fairness of the appeal process may be rejected by the federal district court or the Fifth Circuit, especially if the suspensions are reduced further and are otherwise supported by a detailed, written opinion from Tagliabue. Any suggestion that all the players in this matter will walk away without any suspension whatsoever strikes me as “pie in the sky.”

  10. Thanks, genericuser. I just can’t get used to the huge number of commenters here who object with such venom to these players being given a fair hearing. What country is this, anyway?

  11. Fujita (Browns, on IR) and Hargove (free agent) won’t be busy on Thursday. Wonder if they will be at Cerullo’s hearing.

  12. When the hearings come to discipline Goodell for his role in fabricating these charges and harming the sport, I hope we get a more neutral abritrator than an employee of Goodell’s law firm. Where there is smoke there is fire, and the smoke is all coming out of Goodell’s office. He is practically trying these players by Sharia law.

  13. I just had a thought – is it possible that Goodell knows he has no case, feels he has made his point about bounties, wants the case to go away, and has given it to Tagliabue so he CAN rule in favor of the players, so it can disappear without Goodell himself having to backtrack or be deposed?

  14. Would love to see the stare the players put on this guy while he’s answering questions. He looks like the type of Plaintiff in these revenge-type suits that’ll probably pee on himself while under cross-examination.

  15. “Though their interests will be represented by counsel, it’s critical that the parties facing suspension be present to hear the testimony and assist counsel in coming up with follow-up questions.”

    Pure BS. This has gone on long enough that cousnel should know what to ask.

    And you call yourself a lawyer?

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