NFL Nation: Saints Bounty 2012

NEW ORLEANS -- The bounty scandal is pretty much over, but details continue to emerge.

The Times-Picayune obtained a copy of New Orleans Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt’s testimony before appeals officer and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue in December and it contains some details that haven’t been reported before. Vitt testified that former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams offered rewards for players if they injured assistant coaches from other teams when making plays near the sideline.

But Vitt said players never followed through on that. Much of his testimony indicated Williams acted with a lot of bravado and players didn’t take what he said 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 said to an NFL attorney. "We would have people in jail right now."

Vitt’s testimony also called into question the credibility of former New Orleans assistant Mike Cerullo, who was one of the league’s witnesses. Vitt said coach Sean Payton once asked for police protection for his family while he was out of town because he considered Cerullo a threat.

Video: NFL sticks by Tagliabue

October, 26, 2012
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NFL answers the players union in its bid to oust Paul Tagliabue as the hearing officer for appeals in cases involving the Saints bounty scandal.

Video: Roger Goodell from Hall of Fame

August, 4, 2012
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Ed Werder talks to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the Saints, player safety and replacement officials from the Hall Of Fame induction ceremonies.
It didn’t come in the strong tone that quarterback Drew Brees recently used, but New Orleans defensive end Will Smith also was critical of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his handling of the Saints’ bounty situation.

“Obviously I don’t think it’s fair,” Smith told the media Thursday. “Obviously I think the commissioner made a mistake. All the reports that went out there, a lot of people would agree with that. Ultimately, he made the call and it’s in the court system. We’ll see what happens. If I’ve got to serve the four games, I’ll serve the four games. When I come back, I’ll be 100 percent ready to go and lead my team.”

Smith (four games) and linebacker Jonathan Vilma (the entire season) were the only two current Saints players to draw suspensions. Goodell upheld his decisions in the appeals process. But some last-ditch legal moves still could wipe out or at least postpone the start of the suspensions.

Smith has been through a similar situation before. News that Smith and several other players tested positive for a dietary supplement first broke in 2008 and suspensions were supposed to begin in the 2009 season. But legal proceedings allowed Smith to continue playing in 2009 and ’10. He finally had to serve a two-game suspension at the start of last season.

“It’s tough because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Smith said. “You try not to focus on that. You try to focus on learning the defense, practicing hard and doing the little things to make me a better player and try not to worry about that.”

Brees backs Vilma in lawsuit

July, 22, 2012
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Drew Brees defends Jonathan Vilma in court document filed Saturday.

Video: Bounty settlement conference

July, 7, 2012
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John Clayton discusses the settlement conference for players involved in bounty lawsuits, which is scheduled for July 23rd.

Video: Vitt offers to take lie-detector test

June, 20, 2012
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Adam Schefter discusses his conversation with Joe Vitt about why he has offered to take a lie detector test.

Video: Bounty appeals set for June 18

June, 7, 2012
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NFL.com reports that commissioner Roger Goodell will hear appeals June 18 for players suspended in Saints' bounty program.

Video: NFL has copy of bounty ledger

June, 2, 2012
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John Clayton discusses, according to a source, the NFL having a copy of a ledger detailing contributions and payouts in the New Orleans Saints bounty case.

NFL32: Don't overlook Chiefs in West

May, 9, 2012
5/09/12
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Mort sees big things for the Chiefs this year, Cris Carter elaborates on his bounty comments, and the 32 Crew has some advice for Adrian Peterson when he returns from knee surgery.

Video: Sean Payton staying positive

April, 25, 2012
4/25/12
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Suspended Saints coach Sean Payton tells Michael Collins that he'll watch the NFL draft and shares his thoughts about the future of the franchise.

NFL32: Sean Payton's bounty appeal

March, 30, 2012
3/30/12
10:55
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Wendi and Herm discuss Sean Payton's appeal to the commissioner, Brandon Carr answers a Facebook question, and the Eagles are struck by the injury bug.

NFL32: Bears gaining on Packers?

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
10:05
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Suzy and Adam discuss if the Bears' offseason moves could give the Packers a run for their money in the NFC North, Herm talks about Tim Tebow's role in NY, and in Did You Hear That?, Sean Payton will be spending a lot of time away from the Saints.
We told you earlier in the day about the Twitter war in which former NFL defensive lineman and current NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp accused former New Orleans tight end Jeremy Shockey of being “the snitch’’ that told the NFL about the Saints’ bounty program. Shockey denied the allegation on Twitter.

He just did it again in a telephone interview on "SportsCenter."

“That is 100 percent false,’’ Shockey said. “Everyone knows how I feel about Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints.’’

Shockey emphasized several times that he has enormous respect for Payton, the coach who will be suspended for a year. He also said the same thing about general manager Mickey Loomis, who will be suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 season.

Shockey played for the Saints from 2008 through 2010 and joined the Carolina Panthers last season. Shockey said several times that he had no knowledge of the bounty program and was never in a room where it was discussed.

“The bounty system, I really don’t know how it works because I play offense,’’ Shockey said.

Drew Brees staying chatty

March, 16, 2012
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New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees continues to make the media rounds and get hit with questions about the Saints’ bounty program and his contract situation.

Brees
In this radio interview, on the bounty program, Brees continued to emphasize he had no prior knowledge of its existence. That’s significant because Brees is a member of the executive committee of the NFL Players Association and that makes him a guardian for player safety.

"Well, obviously the whole bounty situation is disappointing for all of us, just because for me, I really had no idea what was going on,'' Brees said. "It seems there's an investigation that's ongoing now for a while and the facts are still being gathered. And, to be honest, a lot of us found ourselves searching for answers and facts here the past few weeks. But it's an extremely unfortunate situation. I think a lot of us are just waiting to see what the investigation turns up and, then, the decisions that will need to be made by the commissioner and others, just so we can move past this.''

Brees also sounded like he was talking from a union point of view when asked if he thought the Saints were being singled out for something that's been going on around the league for years.

"I think there's a difference in what people might view as a bounty or incentivizing players to do certain things,'' Brees said. "What I think has been in the league forever is incentivizing guys to go out and make great plays, whether it's a special-teams guy that you're trying to help take care of or whatever. I think on the flip side of that are teams incentivizing guys to intentionally go out and hurt somebody. That's a serious problem if that is the case. So that's what's being looked into here and that's what needs to be fixed if that is the case.''

That's pretty significant. While Brees isn't saying the Saints were intentionally trying to hurt opponents, he's acknowledging that's what the league is saying.

As far as currently carrying the franchise tag, Brees sounded slightly more upbeat than he was in some other recent interviews.

"Well, that's not what I was hoping for,'' Brees said. "Obviously, I'm working towards a long-term deal and will continue to work towards a long-term deal. I'm still confident that, hopefully, sooner rather than later, we can get a long-term deal worked out.''

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