Report: Joe Vitt testifies Gregg Williams offered bounty for opposing coaches
The Bountygate scandal that dominated the Saints’ 2012 season went beyond alleged offers of cash rewards for hits and injuries to opposing players, according to assistant head coach Joe Vitt.
In December testimony obtained by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Vitt alleged that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams once promised to reward players if they knocked down or took out opposing coaches on plays near the sideline.
Vitt told an appeals hearing headed by former NFL Commisioner Paul Tagliabue that he made sure players understood that such behavior was unacceptable. He also testified that everyone understood that Williams’ “schtick” and “false bravado” were such exaggerations of reality that players rarely took him seriously.
“If our players went out and performed what came out of Gregg Williams’ mouth, and it went from his lips to their ears, and then it went to the performance, we would have people in jail right now, ma’am,” Vitt told NFL attorney Mary Jo White at the time. “We would have people in jail right now.”
The Saints finished 7-9 in the wake of NFL punishments that included head coach Sean Payton’s season-long suspension, and Williams being suspended indefinitely. Vitt was suspended six games and was the team’s interim head coach in Payton’s absence. Payton has since been reinstated and has extended his Saints contract.
Williams is said to be seeking reinstatement by the league and reportedly is being considered for the Titans’ defensive coordinator opening.
During testimony, Vitt also described former Saints assistant — and key NFL witness — Mike Cerullo as a “liar” and an “idiot.” He also suggested that NFL investigators lied about the number of Saints players and coaches who offered information and testimony about the team’s alleged bounty program.