|Vitt wants to work with Goodell and the league to promote player safety. (Getty Images)|
A year ago, the lockout was the summer's only story. Now, with the NFL fully operational (like the Death Star, some might say), the news still remains singular in its focus. This time, it's the Saints bounty scandal and the subsequent fallout.
On Monday, the league released to the NFLPA and the media some of the evidence related to its bounty investigation and it left many observers -- critics and supporters alike -- wholly unimpressed. In terms of bolstering your case, that's never good. (We talked about just that on the latest Pick-6 Podcast, conveniently embedded below.)
One piece of evidence released by the NFL listed Saints assistant Joe Vitt as putting $5,000 in a pool payable to the player who knocked then-Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of a game. (Interestingly, the league didn't include the $5K payment when determining Vitt's eight-game suspension handed down this spring.)
On Tuesday, NFL senior V.P. of labor law and policy Adolpho Birch confirmed to ProFootballTalk.com that Vitt does not face a specific claim of offering bounty payments.
“The short answer is no, we did not consider that as part of what formed the basis of his discipline,” Birch told PFT's Mike Florio. “As we have stated before, what we did from an investigation standpoint is to look for things that were corroborated, and with respect to that particular point, there was no additional corroboration that would lead us to have the same level of confidence as many of the other things that we found.”
Florio translates the legalese: "In other words, the league concluded there wasn't enough evidence to formally accuse Vitt of kicking in money for the Favre bounty for imposing discipline on Vitt, but that there was enough evidence to informally accuse Vitt of kicking in money for the Favre bounty for imposing discipline on others."
Either way, Vitt hadn't commented publicly on any of this until his name showed up as part of the evidence released by the NFL on Monday. In a statement forwarded to PFT by the Saints, Vitt responded vociferously:
“In the recent information released by the NFL 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," he said. "I did not pledge any money for any type of incentive program 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.”
And Vitt didn't stop at his word.
“Today I had a great conversation with the Commissioner and stated I would sign a sworn affidavit to this fact, or make myself available to take a lie detector, to immediately rectify this matter. Also it cannot be emphasized enough, none of our players, particularly those who are facing suspensions, ever crossed the white line with the intent to injure an opponent. I am proud of our players and stand behind them 100 percent and will do whatever I can to help restore their good names."
Vitt also said that he'd work with the league to promote player safety. Meanwhile, the NFL's investigation into the bounty scandal will continue to draw scrutiny. It's hard to dispute that there wasn't a pay-for-performance system in place, but the evidence surrounding the individual sanctions levied by the commissioner raise more questions than it answers.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.