NEW YORK — The lawyer for suspended New Orleans Saints assistant Joe Vitt referred to as former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams a “rogue coach” Thursday for his function in the team’s “bounty” program.
Vitt received a six-game suspension from the NFL for his involvement in the scandal, which also resulted in head coach Sean Payton being banned for the season and general manager Mickey Loomis becoming suspended for eight games. The Saints had been fined $ 500,000 and docked second-round picks in the subsequent two drafts.
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Following their 90-minute appeal hearing with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday at NFL headquarters, David Cornwell, Vitt’s lawyer, and the coach had been asked about a Yahoo! Sports report in which Williams was recorded telling players to target San Francisco 49ers players for injury the night just before their divisional playoff game.
Cornwell stated that was an instance — one of several — of Williams going rogue. Cornwell also stated Payton and Loomis warned Williams the NFL had notified the team 1 week earlier that it had re-opened an investigation into an alleged bounty scheme, but Williams ignored their requests to finish the system.
Payton mentioned at final week’s NFL Annual Meeting that he regretted becoming so focused on offense and not totally monitoring the defense, which Williams controlled.
“As the head coach, something that happens inside the framework of your team and your system, you’re responsible for, and that’s a lesson I’ve learned,” Payton stated last week. “It’s a single that it is straightforward to get carried away on a particular side of the ball offensively or defensively, and that’s something I regret.
“Again, the very first awareness specifically was following the -ten season, and that’s when the league came in initially and visited with a few folks.”
Cornwell said Thursday that Williams was fired by the Saints. Although that could be viewed as appropriate semantically, Williams’ contract technically expired and wasn’t renewed. He then was hired as the St. Louis Rams’ defensive coordinator — a function in which he no longer can serve due to the fact of his indefinite suspension from the NFL.
Payton, Loomis and Vitt hoped to have their punishments lowered or dismissed upon appeal, but several people said they expect that to be unlikely unless they presented compelling new evidence. Goodell could rule as soon as Friday but much more likely subsequent week, according to sources.
The 22 to 27 players cited in the scandal have yet to be disciplined. Goodell is expected to hand down that punishment before the NFL draft, which begins April 26.
Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.
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