Saints interim coach Joe Vitt spoke passionately on Thursday about the NFL bounty hearings, but he was a little off base in two of his points as he responded to a question about former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' testimony that Vitt continued the bounty program after Williams wanted to stop it.
1. Vitt said the all the testimony would be under the penalty of perjury in the future because the bounty accusations were going to federal court.
It is unclear whether the case will continue in federal court. Saints LB Jonathan Vilma has sued NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for defamation, but U.S. District Court judge Ginger Berrigan could dismiss the case. Vilma is a public figure, so the standards for proving defamation are much higher for him than a normal citizen. The likelihood of a dismissal increased when former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue vacated Vilma's suspension earlier this week.
2. Vitt said the players suspended after the bounty investigation subsequently had been cleared by three bodies -- Berrigan, a three-man appeals panel and Tagliabue.
Actually, they weren't “cleared” by anyone. Berrigan has not made a final ruling. The three-man appeals panel, which vacated the suspensions for Vilma, Saints DE Will Smith and former Saints players Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita two days before the season opener, sent the case back to Goodell for clarification of the reasoning behind his decisions.
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Tagliabue, in his ruling this week, cleared Fujita but not the other three players. He vacated their suspensions in large part because he said Saints coaches had contaminated the investigation to the point that no punishment for the players was reasonable. He ended his written ruling by supporting Goodell's contention that Hargrove, Smith and Vilma engaged in “conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football.”
Follow Saints reporter Guerry Smith on Twitter @CBSSaints.