The bounty case essentially is over, but bits and pieces of evidence continue to surface.
More than a few bits and pieces have come from the disclosure of a significant portion of the appeal hearing testimony from former Saints interim head coach and current linebackers coach Joe Vitt.
Among many other things, Vitt’s testimony before former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue sheds light on some of the contentious aspects of the relationship between the league office and the organization. Vitt says that, at one point, Saints owner Tom Benson told NFL V.P. of security Jeff Miller to leave the premises.
“Jeff Miller took a plane ride from New York down to New Orleans, and the way he talked to our owner, what he said to our owner made me want to throw up, to the point where Mr. Benson kicked him off the property and didn’t let him back on the property,” Vitt said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
“This almost killed our owner. Our owner has done nothing but be a great owner in the National Football League the whole time he’s been in the league. . . . And now this guy takes a plane ride down and throws some documents in front of our owner’s face, and our owner has got to kick him out of the building? That’s what we’re dealing with. That’s fine.”
Vitt also explained that, even though notes generated by former Saints assistant Mike Cerullo indicated that Vitt had offered $5,000 to the alleged bounty on former Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, Miller didn’t believe it happened.
“The investigators, Jeff Miller in particular, acknowledged that I did not give any money to a bounty because he said to me, you know, we heard that your wife is so cheap that you have a hard time getting lunch money every day,” Vitt said. “That was his comment to me. And I said, well, your wife must have a pretty good sense of humor, too, with the clothes you’re wearing right now.”
Vitt also had some strong comments for Cerullo.
“Mike Cerullo is a liar,” Vitt said. “We’ll get some notes here from Mr. Cerullo. I’ll say this to you, Commissioner, and anybody that’s interested. I’m taking Mike Cerullo to court. I’m going to sue his ass for the things he said about me, the things he said about this football team. He’s going to be held accountable for everything he said. I make this offer again. If we want me to take a lie detector test this afternoon, I will do so. Or if you want me to do it tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon, I will do so. Mike Cerullo is a liar. A liar.”
Vitt also talked at length regarding coach Sean Payton’s decision after the 2011 season to part ways with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Payton began to sour on Williams after the head coach caught Williams texting draft picks to the media during the 2011 selection process.
“I would say the final straw was the last two weeks of the season,” Vitt said. “Gregg kept coming to Sean every day and wanted his contract extension and wanted his extension done. And Sean said, well, we’ll talk about it at the end of the season, well knowing what direction Sean was going in. And the last week of the season, it’s all in the papers, you know, Gregg has gone to St. Louis, it’s his best friend Jeff Fisher, you know, ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom, trying to squeeze Sean, trying to squeeze Mickey to get his contract. And the day after the playoff game that we lost against San Francisco, he went into Sean’s office and says I need to know right now, I need my contract, I’ve got to let Jeff know what I’m doing. And Sean said, you’re not going to get a contract here. I think it’s best go to St. Louis with your friend Jeff. And that was it. . . . It didn’t end pretty. It didn’t end nice.”
There isn’t much nice or pretty about Vitt’s testimony, but it’s compelling and interesting and he has the kind of passion that typically is exhibited by a guy who has been accused of things he didn’t do.