Now that Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has blown the whistle on the man he claims in a federal lawsuit was the Saints whistleblower, it’s time to take a closer look at Mike Cerullo.
The 45-year-old spent three seasons with the Saints, from 2007 through 2009. Vilma alleges in his lawsuit that Cerullo was fired after the team won Super Bowl XLIV, following a pair of incidents in which he disappeared during the season and provided false excuses upon returning. Vilma also alleges that Cerullo received a Super Bowl ring with fake diamonds, and that he vowed revenge on the team — and specifically on assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt.
A league source with knowledge of the situation contends that Cerullo didn’t receive a Super Bowl ring containing fake diamonds. Another source described Cerullo as “a little unstable and erratic at times,” and that Cerullo “definitely” was unhappy with the team following his termination.
Cerullo currently serves as director of football operations at Princeton. He spent 2011 as a football aide to Connecticut head coach Paul Pasqualoni. Before that, Cerullo served as an offensive assistant with the Miami Hurricanes.
Obviously, Cerullo hopes to keep a low profile. But even if he commenced the process of sharing information with the league office regarding one of the biggest scandals in league history with assurances from the NFL that his name never would be publicly leaked or disclosed by the league, Cerullo had to realize that there was a good chance someone would connect the dots back to him — especially once suspensions began to be handed out.
Cerullo now has to decide whether to maintain his Fight Club-style silence in the face of allegations from Vilma that Cerullo embellished and/or lied about a bounty program and that Cerullo has since recanted. If Cerullo continues to say nothing, some will believe that everything Vilma has said is true. If Cerullo talks, and if he’s questioned extensively about his role, he could make things better — or make things worse.
And if the league remains intent on helping Cerullo, the time arguably has come to divulge any information in its possession that would contradict Vilma’s claims. The time for shielding a man who has been dragged into the public eye by Jonathan Vilma has ended. Cerullo’s integrity and honesty need to be defended, and the league presumably has the ability to do, since the league presumably believes that he is honest and trustworthy, if he indeed supplied key information like the handwritten notes reflecting bounty pledges for the 2009 NFC title game.
And if Cerullo wasn’t involved in the bounty investigation in any way, the NFL needs to say that, too.
At this point, the league’s ongoing refusal to share information obtained from Cerullo isn’t helping Cerullo or anyone else. Other than, perhaps, the league.