Continued from page 1

“We want to play tough, hard-nosed football and look to get ready to play against the next guy. … Brett is a friend of mine, and so that’s just part of this business,” Williams said. “You know, at no time, you know, are we looking to try to end anybody’s career.”

Williams described player pledges to the pool as “nominal” and said they rarely kept the money they earned, either putting it back in the pool or offering it as tips to equipment personnel. In the case of the large amounts pledged during the playoffs, Williams described it as “air” or “funny money” or “banter,” adding that he never actually saw any cash collected or distributed and had no idea what would have happened to the money if Cerullo collected it.

Cerullo testified that league investigators misrepresented what he told them, and that, during the playoffs following the 2009 regular season, he kept track of large playoff pledges on note pads but didn’t collect the money.

Cerullo said hits for cash started with Williams telling the staff that “Sean kind of put him in charge of bringing back a swagger to the defense … so he wanted to brainstorm with us as coaches what we thought we could do. … At one point in one of those meetings, Joe Vitt suggested (his previous teams) had a pay-for-play, pay-for-incentive program that the guys kind of bought into and kind of had fun with, and, you know, that was his suggestion. At that point, Gregg also admitted that other places he was at, they had the same type of thing. And at that point, Gregg kind of ran with it.”

Cerullo described pregame meetings during the playoffs, when the Saints faced quarterback Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals and then Favre.

He said Vitt told players Warner “should have been retired” and “we’re going to end the career tomorrow of Kurt Warner.” Cerullo also quoted Vitt as saying of Favre: “That old man should have retired when I was there. Is he retiring, isn’t he retiring _ that whole (thing) is over, you know, tomorrow. … We’ll end the career tomorrow. We’ll force him to retire. …”

Cerullo testified that, once word came that the NFL was investigating, Williams told him to delete computer files about bounty amounts and that Vitt checked on his progress.

Asked what motivated him to come forward as a whistleblower with an email to the league in November 2011, Cerullo replied: “I was angry for being let go from the Saints.”

Later, he testified: “I was angry at Joe Vitt, and I wanted to show that I was fired for lying and I witnessed Joe Vitt lying and he still had a job. So, that was my goal of reaching out to the NFL.”

The transcripts also portray Tagliabue’s command of the proceedings, including his efforts to rein in the lawyers.

“I’m going to intervene much more significantly, going forward,” Tagliabue interjected at one point, “because I am extremely concerned that this is getting to be cumulative, confusing and useless, and I do not preside over proceedings that are cumulative, confusing and useless.”

There also were lighter moments, such as when Tagliabue announced: “I thought I was going to get through this proceeding only by drinking coffee. I’m getting to the point where I need a Bloody Mary.”

___

Connect with Brett Martel on Twitter at http://twitter.com/brettmartel

Connect with Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich