Joe Vitt offers to take lie detector
New Orleans Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt says he called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday morning and offered to take a lie detector test to prove that the league's bounty allegations against him are false.
It cannot be overemphasized enough that none of our players, particularly those facing suspension, ever crossed the white line with the intent to injure an opponent.” -- Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt
"In recent information released by the National Football League to the NFLPA and later to the media, there is an allegation made against me that is completely untrue and I cannot let it go unchallenged," Vitt said in a statement Wednesday. "I did not pledge any money for any type of incentive program whatsoever pertaining to the 2010 NFC Championship Game.
"Furthermore, I have never at any time pledged any money for any type of incentive program or so-called bounty program. Today I had a conversation with Commissioner Goodell and I stated to him that I would sign a sworn affidavit to this effect or I would make myself available to take a lie detector test to rectify this matter."
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to go into detail about what Vitt and Goodell discussed Wednesday, saying the commissioner considered the conversation private.
Vitt was suspended six games for not taking steps to stop or prevent the bounty program, and not for contributing to any specific bounties. NFL officials have said that the presence of Vitt's name on a ledger concerning the 2010 NFC title game was not a factor in the coach's suspension because it was not corroborated by a second source.
On Monday, the same day the league heard the appeals of four players suspended for their role in the bounty program, the NFL released a horde of evidence gathered during its investigation of the Saints. Punished players and a select group of reporters received the information. The evidence included a sheet of paper that the league alleges showed a $35,000 prize, with $5,000 donated by Vitt specifically, for knocking Favre out of that 2010 championship.
In an interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Wednesday, Vitt said the sheet of paper looks like it has been tampered with.
"There's gotta be some concerns from the league's standpoint and anybody's standpoint about the authenticity of any of these documents. I think that's a huge concern," Vitt told the newspaper. "It looks like that document has been falsified or tampered with. What kind of credibility do they have if they take documents like that and show it to players?"
The league responded Thursday, saying in an email, "The documents are unquestionably authentic."
Also on Monday, the league showed a video clip in which former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove purportedly said "Give me the money" regarding injuring Favre. Hargrove, who was flagged and subsequently fined $5,000 for a flagrant hit on Favre in that game, insisted Tuesday it was someone else uttering those words, though he said he didn't know who.
The NFL Players Association released a statement Monday showing the league's bounty documentation, which includes ledgers of payouts, PowerPoint slides that include phrases such as "bounty $$$" and emails, but said the 16 slides "can hardly be characterized as hard evidence."
Hargrove has been suspended by the NFL for eight games but maintains his innocence, as do former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita (three games) and current Saints Will Smith (four games) and Jonathan Vilma (one year).
"It cannot be overemphasized enough that none of our players, particularly those facing suspension, ever crossed the white line with the intent to injure an opponent," Vitt said in Wednesday's statement. "I am proud of our players and stand behind them 100 percent and will do whatever I can to help them restore their good names.
"I maintain my pledge to the commissioner to be an agent of change in helping finding new ways and practices to help make our game a safer game and more constructive conversations with the league on this matter."
Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who ran the bounty program, has been suspended indefinitely by Goodell, while Saints head coach Sean Payton is gone until after the Super Bowl. Vitt, the interim replacement for Payton, will begin his suspension when the regular season starts. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis is suspended for eight games once the season begins.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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