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Reports: Evidence given to players ahead of bounty appeals

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By PFW staff

The NFL has reportedly turned over some evidence to the four players suspended for the Saints' bounty program ahead of Monday’s appeals hearing.

According to James Varney of The New Orleans Times-Picayune, the NFLPA, in a letter to commissioner Roger Goodell, has asked for evidence to be presented at the hearing.

Goodell suspended Saints head coach Sean Payton and LB Jonathan Vilma for the 2012 season, while GM Mickey Loomis and Packers DL Anthony Hargrove were suspended for eight games. Saints DE Will Smith is suspended for the first four games, while Browns LB Scott Fujita faces a three-game suspension. Hargrove and Fujita previously played for New Orleans. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who's the interim head coach with Payton suspended, was banned for the first six games of '12 by the league.

According to The Times-Picayune, the NFLPA believes that the NFL has videotapes from Duke Naiphon, a friend of Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Wiliams, who was banned indefinitely for his alleged role in the scandal. According to the report, Naiphon, whose tapes are from the 2010 season, was interviewed at length by NFL investigators and believes that Williams’ language was just a motivational tactic.

"We anticipate that we will receive all forms of evidence, including notes from witness interviews, which indicate that Gregg Williams' hyperbolic language in talking about his accountability system was not intended or perceived as literal instructions to intentionally injure opposing players," the union wrote, according to The Times-Picayune. 

According to NFL.com, Vilma’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, said that the majority of evidence the NFL has given to Vilma is a PowerPoint slideshow of Williams’ speeches to players. Ginsberg told NFL.com’s Steve Wyche: “There is nothing that evidences opposing players were targeted. There is nothing that evidences any of the players were involved in putting money on the heads of opposing players the way the commissioner has suggested.”

The league has maintained that it has thousands of documents and multiple sources that implicate the players in a pay-for-performance program.

“We have followed the procedures set forth in the CBA on appeals of commissioner discipline,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, according to The Associated Press.

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