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League clears way for Gregg Williams to publicly come clean

Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 09: Jonathan Vilma #51 talks with Gregg Williams of the New Orleans Saints during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Louisiana Superdome on September 9, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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If former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams wants to talk, he apparently can.

At Monday’s appeal hearing, lawyer Peter Ginsberg claimed that the league had issued a gag order preventing Williams and other Saints employees from speaking about the situation. According to the Associated Press, the league denies the existence of a gag order.

Ginsberg also claimed that Williams and former Saints assistant Mike Cerullo retracted their statements that the players were involved in a bounty program. The league denies that they have retracted their comments.

If true, then Williams has the green light to go on the record and explain whether, for example, he told the league that linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to anyone who knocked Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC title game. The league claims that Williams, Mike Ornstein, and an unnamed witness said Vilma said the offer. Ornstein has denied in an interview with PFT giving the league such information.

Williams has remained silent, and many league insiders believe that he fears he’ll never be reinstated by Commisioner Roger Goodell if Williams goes public with any statements that weaken the league’s case against the players. Given the perception that he threw Vilma under the bus, Williams surely is feeling compelled to come forward -- especially if he believes that he didn’t say what the league is saying he said about Vilma.

Of course, the absence of a gag order doesn’t mean the league office wouldn’t find a way to hold against Williams anything he says that the league office finds objectionable or unfortunate. In the end, Williams has to balance the possibility of alienating the NFL against the reality that he will now be viewed by players throughout the league, rightly or wrongly, as a snitch.