Saints' Vilma, Smith to attend bounty hearing Friday
Former defensive coordinator Williams to testify
New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith have a busy few days coming up.
Thursday night, they will play a crucial game against the Falcons in Atlanta.
Friday morning, they will be in Washington, D.C., as part of their appeal of suspensions handed down in the Saints' bounty scandal.
ESPN.com reported that the NFL Players Association will provide a private plane for the players to use for their travels after the arbitrator, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, refused to move back the timing of testimony by ex-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Lawyers for Vilma and Smith will be cross-examining Williams.
"We will definitely be there Friday," Smith said, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "They're accusing us of things we didn't do. That's part of the things that we wanted all along was to face our accusers. We won't get a chance to be there for Mike Cerullo's (testimony) on Thursday because we'll be playing. Friday is scheduled for Gregg Williams. Hopefully he shows up."
Vilma received a one-season suspension for his alleged role in the Saints' reported pay-for-pain scheme, while Smith received a four-game suspension.
Williams was banned from the league indefinitely.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees said that most of the Saints aren't actively keeping tabs on the appeals process.
"At this point in the season, we feel so far away from that," Brees said, according to the Times-Picayune. "Obviously, it's something that directly affects a few of our team members. Obviously, it's probably something that weighs on their mind. I think for us as a team, though, we're just glad we have those guys. Embrace them and think about what we're still trying to accomplish as a team. Let all of that stuff run its course. We've all been pretty separate from that for a while."