Thursday, January 31, 2013

Joe Vitt claims Saints owner threw NFL personnel out of the team’s facilities

During the Bounty Gate drama things were predictably tense at the New Orleans Saints compound.

When linebackers coach Joe Vitt testified before former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue on Dec.3, 2012, his verbiage was raw as he explained his version of various events.

Vitt’s testimony was secured by the Times-Picayune that laid out a scene in which a New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson kicked  NFL representative Jeff Miller out of the facility.

Vitt starts by describing  when Miller visited the team on November 5th when the Saints defeated the Eagles 28-13.

“He was down at the game two weeks ago against the Philadelphia Eagles, and he was on our sideline,” Vitt said. “And he was over with our director of security, Danny Lawless, and he started laughing at Danny a little bit and said, ‘Hey, maybe I should just go up to the sideline and say hello to Joe Vitt, he’d be glad to see me.’ And Danny looked at him and couldn’t believe it. He thought it was so funny, I guess, because I was just coming off my second game after my seven-week suspension.

“I guess it’s a joke. I guess it’s just a big joke,” Vitt said. “I can tell you, there’s no one in New Orleans laughing, and no one in our organization is laughing. I’ll tell you who is not laughing, is our owner Mr. Benson. Because Jeff Miller took a plane ride from New York down to New Orleans, and the way he talked to our owner, what he said to our owner made me want to throw up, to the point where Mr. Benson kicked him off the property and didn’t let him back on the property; the third time when I talked to Jeff Miller at the Hilton.

“And by the way, the second time I talked to investigators – I’m sorry, I forgot about this. The investigators, Jeff Miller in particular, acknowledged that I did not give any money to a bounty because he said to me, you know, we heard that your wife is so cheap that you have a hard time getting lunch money every day. That was his comment to me. And I said, well, your wife must have a pretty good sense of humor, too, with the clothes you’re wearing right now. So they acknowledged that.”

“This is – let me tell you something. This almost killed our owner. Our owner has done nothing but be a great owner in the National Football League the whole time he’s been in the league.  And now this guy takes a plane ride down and throws some documents in front of our owner’s face, and our owner has got to kick him out of the building? That’s what we’re dealing with. That’s fine.”

The Times-Picayune story is a compelling ride.

Another key piece is Vitt’s account of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams downfall in New Orleans.
“So we’re in the draft that spring, and we’re all told as coaches there’s no cell phones in the draft room,”

Vitt said. “It’s a – it’s what we’re all told. I mean, you don’t – there’s no phones down there. Well, Gregg would continually take his down there. He took it the first two years. And, you know, Sean is not a confrontational guy. But on this particular year in (2011), Gregg started texting our draft picks to the media about four or five minutes before we made the pick. Sean watched him do this from across the room. So he had the first two draft picks right. So Sean told me, and Sean was livid. And I didn’t want to believe it. I really didn’t want to believe it. So Sean says, well, watch this, I’ll show you the next round. The next round, he goes up to Gregg, and he goes, hey, we’re going to draft this offensive lineman out of Oklahoma and takes Gregg’s cell phone and covers it over with a piece of paper or a hat or whatever so Gregg can’t get to his cell phone – or excuse me.

“We’re going to take this guy from Oklahoma. Gregg texts this guy from Oklahoma to Jeff Duncan, puts his phone down, and Sean comes over and covers his phone with a hat and changes the draft pick. Duncan reports about this kid from Oklahoma on the offense. So we had – at that point in time, Sean had had enough. And an exit strategy was in place to move on from – to move on from Gregg.

“I would say the final straw was the last two weeks of the season – of the Detroit, San Francisco (games), you know, Gregg kept coming to Sean every day and wanted his contract extension and wanted his extension done. And Sean said, well, we’ll talk about it at the end of the season, well knowing what direction Sean was going in.

And the last week of the season, it’s all in the papers, you know, Gregg has gone to St. Louis, it’s his best friend Jeff Fisher, you know, ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom, trying to squeeze Sean, trying to squeeze Mickey to get his contract. And the day after the playoff game that we lost against San Francisco, he went into Sean’s office and says I need to know right now, I need my contract, I’ve got to let Jeff know what I’m doing. And Sean said, you’re not going to get a contract here. I think it’s best go to St. Louis with your friend Jeff. And that was it. … It didn’t end pretty. It didn’t end nice. I’m sure that Gregg has a lot of animosity towards me now.”

Williams is now allegedly ready to take a position with the Tennessee Titans.

If that works out, I look forward to what will certainly be a scrutinized chess match.

As for Vitt,  his testimony is entertaining to say the very least.

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