Williams testified he wanted to stop bounties: Former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said at an appeals hearing in the Saints bounty case that he tried to shut down the team’s pay-for-pain system when the NFL began investigating but was overruled by current Saints head coach Joe Vitt, according to transcripts of the session that were obtained by The Associated Press.
The transcripts say Williams testified that Vitt responded to a suggestion that the Saints abandon the pay-for-pain setup with an obscenity-filled speech about how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “wasn’t going to ... tell us to ... stop doing what won us the Super Bowl. This has been going on in the ... National Football League forever ...”
Williams and Vitt were among a number of witnesses whose testimony was heard by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. On Tuesday, Tagliabue overturned four player suspensions in the case.
The AP obtained transcripts of Tagliabue’s closed-door hearings through a person with a role in the case.
Goodell: Bounty players should be punished: IRVING, Texas (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he “fundamentally disagrees” with former league boss Paul Tagliabue’s decision not to discipline players in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal.
Speaking after an owners meeting Wednesday in the Dallas area, Goodell said he respected his predecessor’s decision to vacate a yearlong suspension of linebacker Jonathan Vilma and shorter bans for three other current and former Saints players.
But Goodell said players deserved to be punished as much as New Orleans coaches and management. He said he held “everyone responsible.”
In an NFL appeal ruling Tuesday, Tagliabue tossed the suspensions, saying the punishment was too heavy-handed. But he affirmed much of the probe’s findings that the Saints, including Vilma, had an improper cash-for-hits program and tried to cover it up.
Abby Wambach helps US beat China 4-0: HOUSTON (AP) — Abby Wambach scored twice to become only the second American woman to reach 150 international goals, and the United States beat China 4-0 in an exhibition game Wednesday night
Carly Lloyd and Amy Rodriguez also scored to help the Americans extend their unbeaten streak to 22.
Wambach opened the scoring in the 20th minute, splitting two defenders to head home Heather O’Reilly’s cross from the right side. Wambach also slotted home an 8-yard rocket in the 63rd minute for her 25th goal of the year. She needs eight goals to tie Mia Hamm as the U.S women’s career leader.
Lloyd gave the reigning Olympic gold medalists a 2-0 lead in the 62nd minute earlier with a header of her own off Megan Rapinoe’s corner kick.
Rodriguez capped the scoring with a 7-yard shot off a save by goalkeeper Wang Fei in the 85th minute.
The exhibition before 15,643 fans at BBVA Compass Stadium was the ninth match in the 10-game Fan Tribute Tour that wraps up Saturday in Boca Raton, Fla., with the third straight game against China.
The top-ranked Americans are 16-0-3 against China dating to 2003.
Dempsey US player of year for 2nd straight year: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Clint Dempsey has been voted the Futbol de Primera U.S. national team player of the year award for the second straight year and third time overall.
The 29-year-old Tottenham midfielder received 352 points and 81 first-place votes in media balloting released Wednesday. Dempsey also won the award in 2006.
Roma midfielder Michael Bradley was second with 248 points and 49 firsts, and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard was third with 169 and 19 firsts.
Dempsey had six goals in nine games for the U.S. this year, giving him 30 goals in 91 international appearances.
The award was formerly known as the Honda player of the year.
NHL, union remain apart on issues and in meetings: NEW YORK (AP) — The NHL and the players’ association met with federal mediators, not with each other, in the latest round of fruitless negotiations.
The sides arrived at the same location Wednesday in suburban New Jersey, but never got into a room together. No apparent progress was made, and nothing appears to have been resolved.
“There is no conclusion to this round of the process right now,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said on the 88th day of the league’s lockout.
The players’ association has yet to comment on Wednesday’s discussions because it is still meeting.
This would have been the first negotiating session between the sides since talks broke down last Thursday. All games through Dec. 30 have been canceled, or about 43 percent of the season.
Hockey fans fed up with ongoing NHL labor strife: NHL fans are getting fed up with the ongoing lockout.
Some supporters have started grass roots efforts to pledge they won’t return when the labor strife is settled. Los Angeles hockey fan Steve Chase started the “Just Drop It” campaign that encourages fans to boycott one NHL game for every game canceled after Dec. 21st.
No tickets, no TV, no merchandise. They won’t spend a minute watching games or spend a dime on the league.
Penguins star Sidney Crosby understands why fans are upset over the third lockout in Commissioner Gary Bettman’s 20-year tenure. He says it’s pretty easy for fans, players and management to feel frustrated over the lockout.
History shows the fans will return. The NHL totaled a record 21,468,121 fans in 2011-12, seven years after a lockout wiped out a full season.