On Thursday afternoon, Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt said that the leak of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ testimony to the media amounted to a “scud,” presumably launched by the league office. Vitt predicted that another “scud” would be coming Thursday night.
Coincidentally (or not), a letter from former Saints assistant Mike Cerullo to former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has been leaked to John Barr of ESPN.
“Since it became public that I told league officials about the (bounty) program, I have been vilified and subjected to slanderous lies,” Cerullo wrote.
“It has been said . . . that I ‘pledged vengeance on the Saints,’ and that I retracted my claims after first making them. As you know, none of that is true. Having people tell vicious lies about me has not been easy for me and my family.”
Cerullo, whom Vitt called an “idiot” while testifying at the recent bounty appeal hearing, allegedly was fired after multiple unexplained absences from work during the 2009 season, according both to Vitt’s testimony and a lawsuit previously filed by Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma. ”It has been said that I ‘disappeared’ from work during the 2009-2010 season, that my performance ratings were poor,” Cerullo wrote to Tagliabue. “I never missed work, always received high performance ratings.”
Cerullo also took aim at those who criticized him for blowing the whistle on the bounty program; most recently, Saints quarterback Drew Brees described Cerullo and Williams as “two guys who were fired from here because they didn’t fit the mold.” Brees also questioned where they are “mentally.”
“I regret that some of the players facing discipline chose to attack me and coach Williams for coming forward,” Cerullo wrote to Tagliabue. “But what is worse is that others, including lawyers, knowingly spoke lies and continue to do so. You searched for and found the truth; they have never thought that truth matters.”
Since Cerullo is interested in the truth, he should consider the whole truth. While employed by the Saints, Cerullo knowingly participated in the activities about which he now complains; he could have taken a stand at the time the events were unfolding, or he could have blown the whistle not long after he was fired.
Instead, he sent an email more than a year after the fact to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, only a couple of months before the annual hiring season began for head coaches and assistant coaches. And Cerullo made no bones about his desire to get back to the league.
“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,” Cerullo wrote in November 2011. “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.”
Cerullo wanted back in, and he possibly believed that helping the league crack the ice-cold bounty case would help. And his decision to call the Saints a “Dirty Organization” suggests that he indeed harbors ill will for the organization that fired him. And now he has decided to write a letter to Paul Tagliabue complaining about the fact that his motives have been questioned.
Regardless of whether he has the skills and abilities to return to the NFL, he could have used a better strategy for getting there.