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Saints players to attend hearing with Williams

Associated Press Modified: November 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm •  Published: November 27, 2012

The hearings were slated to begin Tuesday in Washington with the questioning of NFL chief security officer Jeff Miller. Tagliabue has requested strict confidentiality while the process is ongoing, and the hearings are being conducted in private.

Tagliabue also is holding the NFL is responsible for producing Cerullo and Williams. The Saints are responsible for producing Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt and Vilma early next week.

Vitt, who also coaches linebackers, already has served a six-game suspension related to the bounty probe and has said that while the Saints had an informal performance pool that rewarded players for big plays including forced fumbles, interceptions, sacks and big hits, his players never stepped on the field intending to injure an opponent.

Vitt made similar comments under oath in federal court last summer when he was called as a witness in Vilma's defamation lawsuit against current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who published the initial bounty accusations and issued the suspensions, which included a full season ban for Saints head coach Sean Payton.

Lawsuits both by Vilma and the NFL Players Association challenging Goodell's handling of the bounty matter, including his decision to appoint Tagliabue as arbitrator for the appeals, is pending in federal court in New Orleans. It is not clear whether the judge intends to let more of the NFL's process play out before making a ruling.

Tagliabue has said he expects to make his appeal ruling shortly after concluding hearings on Dec. 4.