Tagliabue to rule on appeals

The most recent round of appeal hearings, in the ongoing NFL bounty investigation, have ended after appearances by Brad Childress, the former head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Joe Vitt, assistant head coach of the New Orleans Saints, and Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

Vilma told YouWager’s news source that he thought his appearance went well, but he declined to comment any more on the matter due a confidentiality request by Paul Tagliabue, the former NFL commissioner. Tagliabue was appointed to be in charge of the appeal process.

In addition to the appeal hearings, several witnesses also appeared in Washington, DC. last week. Tagliabue told the lawyers that represent all of the parties that he planned to rule on the appeals presented by Vilma, Will Smith, and two other players when the hearings were over.

A source close to the matter told YouWager that Tagliabue will likely rule on the appeals by early next week. This means that both Vilma and Smith believe they may play for the Saints in Sunday’s game against the New York Giants. At YouWager, the Saints are currently posted as a 5-point underdog in that contest.

After the league’s investigation into the bounty for hits program within the New Orleans Saints, Smith was originally suspended four games, and Vilma was suspended for the entire 2012 NFL football wagering season.

Vilma, Childress, and Vitt went along with Tagliabue’s request for confidentiality. When Childress left the session with the attorneys, he told YouWager’s source he had ”nothing to add.” Vitt said little also. I a previous hearing, Vitt, under oath, said that his players never took the field intending to injure an opponent. Vitt only said that his testimony ”was reiterated.”

Also banned were two former New Orleans players. Scott Fujita, now a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns, had his suspension reduced to just one game. Free-agent Anthony Hargrove has not played in the NFL during this football betting season. He still faces a two-game suspension if he is recruited by a team.

The league has painted Jonathan Vilma, the defensive captain of the Saints, as a ringleader, along with former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, in charge of a payoff pool for targeting opponents and knocking them out of games from 2009 to 2011.

The NFL already has sworn statements from Williams and Mike Cerullo, a former assistant coach for the Saints. Last week Cerullo testified, saying that Vilma offered $10,000 to anyone that could knock quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2010 NFC championship game.

Childress told the league that after that game, he was told that the Saints had offered a payout for hitting Favre hard. Childress is now the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns. There is some dispute, by the players involved, about what Childress heard, and what he was told.

The NFLPA told a YouWager source that under the CBA, the labor agreement does not give the commissioner authority to punish players for legal hits. But the NFL maintains that these players were not punished for on-field actions.

Greg Williams has admitted that he ran the pay-for-injuries program. He told YouWager’s source, ”It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it.’‘ Williams was immediately banned from the NFL for life. Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints was banned for the entire 2012 NFL football wagering season. He is the first coach to ever be suspended by the league.

Without their head coach, when the Saints take on the New York Giants this Sunday, the Giants will be 5-point favorites at YouWager. The total is 53.5. Game time on Sunday is 4:25PM Eastern.