Earlier today, I mentioned that the latest court filing from Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma in the bounty case contains no new facts or legal arguments.
Man, was I wrong.
Attached to the brief is the email sent by former Saints assistant coach Mike Cerullo that resurrected the NFL’s investigation. In a November 2, 2011 message to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, Cerullo states as follows: “So I have info on Saints Joe Vitt Lying to your NFL Investigators on Bounties from 2010, along with proof!!! I was there, in the cover up meetings, with players and Joe, I love the NFL and want to work there again, but I am afraid if I tell thge [sic] truth I will never coach again in NFL, But I was fired for a situation that the Saints encourage. All I want is a Job back in the NFL as a QC Coach anywhere, so If talking to you jepodizes [sic] that I will have to get back to you, but The Saints are a Dirty Organization. Contact me.”
The message contains proof of Cerullo’s alleged bias against Vitt. As alleged by Vilma earlier in this process, Cerullo had vowed revenge against Vitt for firing Cerullo. Separately, Cerullo’s zeal to return to the NFL calls into question everything he says. Also, Cerullo’s reference to being fired “for a situation that the Saints encourage” requires that claim to be explored and compared to the stated and actual reasons for his termination, in order to properly evaluate Cerullo’s overall perspective and mindset.
The email is attached to a new declaration from Vilma’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, who explains that the email was produced by the NFL on October 23, 2012. Ginsberg contends that the NFL completely removed Aiello’s response.
The Cerullo email is marginally relevant to the effort to disqualify former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue as the bounty suspension hearing officer. But it will be extremely relevant to the overall appeal and litigation process, given that it makes a full cross examination of Cerullo even more critical to a fair disposition of the case.