And the craziness continues.
On Monday, NFL outside counsel Mary Jo White said at the bounty appeal hearing that Mike Ornstein corroborated the claim that Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to anyone who knocked Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC title game, and that Vilma offered $10,000 to anyone who knocked Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner out of the 2009 NFC divisional-round playoff game.
The only problem with that? Ornstein tells PFT that he never said what the NFL now claims he said.
“I never corroborated $10,000,” Ornstein said. “The only thing that I told them was that we had the [pregame] meeting, we jumped around, we screamed around, and I never saw [Vilma] offer one dime. And I never heard him say it.”
Ornstein admits that the Saints had a pay-for-performance program in 2009, but he repeatedly denied that he told the NFL that Vilma offered any money knocking any player out of any game.
“Did I say to the league that I saw Jonathan Vilma offer $10,000?” Ornstein said. “Absolutely not.”
I asked Ornstein the question several different ways, to ensure there was no ambiguity. He consistently and repeatedly (and at times profanely) denied ever telling the NFL that Vilma offered money to anyone who knocked Favre and/or Warner out of the 2009 playoff games.
It’s unclear what, if any, impact this has on the broader bounty case, other than to call into serious question the validity of the league’s reliance on Ornstein as proof that Vilma offered money to anyone, for anything. Though there’s a chance Ornstein is lying now, there’s also a chance he was lying then, and given his history of legal entanglements, the league may have badly erred by using him to support any aspect of the bounty case.