NEW ORLEANS — Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt says a piece of evidence recently made public in the NFL’s bounty investigation falsely portrays him pledging $5,000 for knocking then Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2010 NFC title game.
In a statement issued by the Saints on Wednesday, Vitt said he never has pledged money for any type of performance incentives, let alone the cash-for-hits bounty program that the NFL says the Saints ran from 2009-11 under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
“The NFL never accused me of such conduct because I did not pledge any money for any incentive, pay for performance, bounty or any other alleged program in connection with any game, including the 2010 NFC Championship,” Vitt’s statement said. “The Commissioner confirmed that there is no such allegation or suspicion in a conversation that we had today, and the NFL has publicly sought to clarify that the document that has been mischaracterized was not intended to implicate me - formally or informally.”
Vitt also told the Associated Press that he told the commissioner he was willing to take a lie detector test if anyone doubted his assertion that he never pledged to a pay-for-performance pool.
Vitt has been suspended for the first six games of the season in connection with the NFL’s bounty investigation. Nonetheless, is handling head coaching duties while Sean Payton serves a suspension spanning the entire season.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to go into detail about what Vitt and Goodell discussed Wednesday, saying the commissioner considered the conversation private. However, 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.
In his statement, Vitt said he supports the commissioner’s goals of making pro football safer. However, Vitt also stood by earlier assertions that while coaches may have used inappropriately violent language and imagery during motivational speeches, Saints players never did anything wrong.
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has been suspended the entire season in connection with the bounty probe, while Saints defensive end Will Smith has been suspended four games. Former Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, now with Green Bay, was docked eight games and linebacker Scott Fujita, now with Cleveland, was suspended three games.
Redskins camp to open July 26
The Washington Redskins will open training camp July 26 at Redskins Park in Ashburn, the team announced Wednesday.
That practice will begin at 2:55 p.m., with parking lots opening at noon and gates opening at 1 p.m.
The schedule remains the same for most of the open practices, the last of which will be held Aug. 14. Fan appreciation day is set for Aug. 4, with practice to begin at noon.
There are no bleachers on site; fans are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets.
Ex-Redskin Atogwe signs with Eagles
PHILADELPHIA — Safety O.J. Atogwe signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Atogwe, who turns 31 on Saturday, spent last season with Washington after playing his first six seasons in St. Louis.
Atogwe was a third-round pick in 2005 out of Stanford. He has 520 tackles, 25 interceptions, 5.5 sacks and 19 forced fumbles.
GM: Harvin won’t be traded
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Percy Harvin didn’t participate in Minnesota’s mandatory minicamp practice Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after requesting a trade from the Vikings.
Harvin did go through a light walk-through practice with the team Wednesday morning, but he wasn’t present for the longer afternoon session that he participated in Tuesday.
Harvin has requested a trade for unspecified reasons. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman says the team has no interest in trading its star receiver.
Coach Leslie Frazier declined to comment on Harvin’s absence from practice and wouldn’t say if he expects him to return Thursday for the final day of practice.
DT Stroud announces retirement
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud is retiring after a decade in the NFL.
A first-round draft pick from Georgia in 2001, Stroud spent seven years in Jacksonville. He had 274 tackles and 22 sacks with the Jaguars and was voted a Pro Bowl starter in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Traded to Buffalo in 2008, Stroud had 150 tackles and 7 1/2 sacks in three seasons with the Bills.