METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt said Thursday that witnesses in the NFL's bounty investigation of the New Orleans Saints have lied about him and the organization and that their stories might change in federal court.
Alluding to a defamation lawsuit filed by Saints linebacker Jon Vilma against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Vitt angrily said he feels the truth about the pay-for-pain system will come out before U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan, who is presiding over the pending case in New Orleans.
"If anybody's keeping a scorecard here, let's take a look at this," Vitt said. He referred back his first meeting with reporters after the NFL released its bounty probe findings last March, in which he said, "At no point in time did our players ever cross the white line with the intention of injuring, maiming or ending the career of another player. That never took place."
Then, recounting his witness appearance in Vilma's case last summer, he added, "I've testified before a federal judge with my hand on the Bible."
"What's going to happen now is all participants, all these accusations, are going to go to federal court," Vitt continued. "They're going to go to a judge, and from top to bottom, she's going to hear testimony and the penalty for perjury with her is going to be jail time."
Vitt's comments came a day after The Associated Press reported that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams testified in recent NFL appeal hearings that he tried to stop the Saints' bounty program, only to be overruled by Vitt. The AP obtained transcripts from the closed-door hearings, which were held for Vilma and three other players who had been punished in the bounty probe.
Those same transcripts show Vitt later denied Williams' allegation and offered to take a lie detector test, adding, "There's a lot of lying going on right now."
Vitt called Williams a liar repeatedly during his appeal hearing testimony, even saying Williams "has lost his mind in some situations."
Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been defending the integrity of his coaches, saying Wednesday that it was hard to believe the NFL based its case on the testimony of Williams and former defensive assistant Mike Cerullo, "two disgruntled employees that were fired here because they did not fit the mold of what we are about."
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