Tagliabue plans to rule on bounties in early December
Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue will finish hearings in the NFL bounty investigation by Dec. 4 and then issue a ruling soon thereafter.
According to multiple reports Wednesday, Tagliabue informed league officials and players involved in the case of his plans. He also directed the NFL to make key witnesses available in the New Orleans' Saints' cash-for-hits bounty program that allegedly rewarded players for knocking opponents out of games from 2009 to 2011.
Those individuals include former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and former defensive assistant Mike Cerullo.
Four players originally were suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell as a result of the bounty program, but the punishments were rescinded during the first week of the NFL season. Tagliabue took over the new hearings on Oct. 19 after the players argued that Goodell could not be objective as an arbitrator.
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith, who were part of the investigation, remain active players without serving any punishment or missing any games. Vilma had been suspended for the entire season and Smith for four games.
Two others, Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita, and free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, were suspended for their roles, but both suspensions were reduced.
The scheduled witnesses for the hearings from Tuesday through Dec. 4 in Washington at this point include Williams Cerullo, Vilma, Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt and NFL chief security officer Jeff Miller.
Meanwhile, the players are challenging Tagliabue's impartiality in the case in an appeal before a federal judge who is considering whether or not Tagliabue is bias as a fommer NFL commissioner should be removed. That ruling could come next week.