Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt, who has been suspended six games for his role in the Saints’ pay-for-performance/bounty program, allegedly told defensive end Anthony Hargrove to deny that a bounty had been placed on Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC title game, and to deny generally the existence of a bounty program.
Vitt denies it, according to Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
“At no time did I ever tell Anthony Hargrove to lie or deny the existence (of the alleged bounty program),” Vitt said. “He can say whatever he wants to say. It just didn’t happen.”
But here’s the thing. Vitt consistently has denied the existence of a “bounty” program. Instead, he has admitted that the Saints had a pay-for-performance system.
“We had a pot for big plays, the same thing everyone else in the league has, now they call them pay-for-performance. But we never paid for dirty hits,” Vitt said. “I’ll say it again, the exact same thing I told the Commissioner, our players never crossed the white lines with an intent to maim or injure. They never threatened the integrity of the game when they crossed the white lines.”
That’s where the gap in the facts exists. The league says that money was paid for “cart-offs” and “knockouts,” but the league has yet to identify a single cent contributed or paid for a “cart-off” or a “knockout” caused by the Saints in 2009, 2010, and/or 2011.
If it happened, why not disclose the proof of it? If it didn’t, why isn’t this simply being characterized as an illegal pay-for-performance program?