The scandal surrounding the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program is still an enduring storyline, and the latest twist comes from assistant head coach Joe Vitt.
Vitt, who was suspended for six games due to his involvement in the scheme and served as an interim head coach in 2012, testified to former commissioner Paul Tagliabue on Dec. 3. Mike Triplett of the Times-Picayune obtained a transcript of the testimony, and notes:
Among the most incendiary details that have not been previously reported was Vitt's allegation that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams once promised rewards to players if they would knock down or take out the knees of assistant coaches from other teams on the sideline when a tackle carried over off the field.
As Triplett notes, Vitt vehemently defended the character of his players, claiming they knew Williams’ offers were nothing but empty rhetoric. Per Triplett, Vitt said the following in his testimony:
If our players went out and performed what came out of Gregg Williams' mouth, and it went from his lips to their ears, and then it went to the performance, we would have people in jail right now ma'am, we would have people in jail right now.
The Saints had three consecutive seasons in which they won 11 or more games from 2009 to 2011 and won the Super Bowl in 2009. But after the turmoil surrounding the scandal, New Orleans went 7-9.
The Saints defense was particularly awful, and the unit set a record for the most yardage allowed in a single season, as Sports Illustrated notes.
Vitt points a finger at the NFL for the Saints' struggles this season, believing that the whole mess was created because the league paid an undeserving amount of attention to Mike Cerullo. Cerullo is a former assistant coach whom Vitt has described as a “liar,” according to Triplett.
The Saints bounty saga is now a part of NFL history, and the parties involved will continue to fight for their sides of the story to prevail. In all likelihood, this will not be the last revelation to come out of this scandal.