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NFL: 'Of course' bounty coaches are 'free to speak'

During Drew Brees' mediawhirlwind in New York on Tuesday, the New Orleans Saints quarterback levied yet another serious criticism of the NFL. He said that the suspended Saints coaches are afraid of speaking out about their situation.

"I've been informed a lot of those coaches feel there are further sanctions being held over their head if they don't cooperate with the investigation," Brees said on The Dan Patrick Show, via ProFootballTalk. "If they were to speak out on behalf of the players, maybe that's the fear they have."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello has told a variety of outlets that there is simply no truth to Brees' claims.

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"Of course people are free to speak, as Joe Vitt has done," Aiello told Around the League on Wednesday.

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio reported that Sean Payton and Gregg Williams fear further retribution if they say anything. As Aiello points out, Saints interim coach Joe Vitt has spoken out against the league. Vitt wondered aloud if NFL evidence has been tampered with.

After Williams' indefinite suspension was announced, the league indicated that Williams' cooperation with future proceedings would be a factor in his possible reinstatement.

"Commissioner Goodell said he will give close attention to the extent to which Coach Williams cooperates with the NFL in any further proceedings," the league explained in a March 21 statement detailing Williams' punishment.

Cooperating with proceedings doesn't mean Williams has to take a vow of silence. But that's essentially what he's done to this point.

The back-and-forth between the players and the league over the bounty evidence is seemingly never-ending. We would be surprised if the coaches got involved publicly. Payton and Williams have openly apologized, admitted their mistakes, and seem to want to move past the controversy as much as possible.

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