METAIRIE, La. — On Wednesday, Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt preferred to keep quiet on his thoughts regarding Paul Tagliabue’s decision to vacate the suspensions of four players for their roles in New Orleans’ bounty program.
Thursday, a day after an Associated Press story quoting the hearings transcripts said former defensive coordinator Greg Williams was kept from stopping the program by Vitt, the interim coach took off his muzzle.
“We knew that there was going to be a leakage of information and it was like clockwork,” Vitt said. “It was like ‘60 Minutes,’ the thing ticking, that we knew that this was going to come out. And so here it comes. It’s here and it’s a shame. It’s a shame.”
He went on.
“Let me say this,” he said. “No. 1, in my testimony, I was never asked that question, whether or not that I wanted to keep a bounty program going. I was never asked that question. I was told that accusation was made and I volunteered at the time in front of commissioner Tagliabue to take a lie detector test that afternoon, to deny that allegation.”
Vitt promised that those who have lied to sully his name and the names of the others involved – Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis and the players – will face their day in court and that, if they lie to the judge, “the penalty for perjury with her is going to be jail time.”
The AP story quotes Williams in the transcript as recalling Vitt responding to a suggestion to stop the bounty program with a profanity-laced speech, saying commissioner Roger Goodell “wasn’t going … tell us to … stop doing what won us the Super Bowl. This has been going on in the … National Football League forever, and it will go on here forever, when they run (me) out of there, it will still go on.”
Thursday, Vitt said he expected another report taking a shot at him and, if it were to come, that he’d be ready to respond on Friday.
For now, Vitt said he can only work towards helping the Saints prepare for Tampa Bay. His reputation has already been chipped away at, he said.
“I’ve already served my time,” Vitt said. “Mickey has already served his time. And to be quite frank with you, I don’t know what door to knock on on Park Avenue to get my reputation back. But again, I’m going to defend our players, I’m going to defense this organization and I’m going to defend our ownership.”