Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt said Thursday witnesses in the NFL’s bounty investigation of the New Orleans Saints have lied about him and the organization, and that their stories might change in federal court.
Alluding to a defamation lawsuit filed by Saints linebacker Jon Vilma against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Vitt angrily said he feels the truth about the pay-for-pain system will come out before US District Judge Ginger Berrigan, who is presiding over the pending case in New Orleans.
‘‘If anybody’s keeping a scorecard here, let’s take a look at this,’’ Vitt said.
He referred back to his first meeting with reporters after the NFL released its bounty probe findings last March, in which he said, ‘‘At no point in time did our players ever cross the white line with the intention of injuring, maiming, or ending the career of another player. That never took place.’’
Then, recounting his witness appearance in Vilma’s case last summer, he added, ‘‘I’ve testified before a federal judge with my hand on the Bible.’’
‘‘What’s going to happen now is all participants, all these accusations, are going to go to federal court,’’ Vitt continued. ‘‘They’re going to go to a judge, and from top to bottom, she’s going to hear testimony, and the penalty for perjury with her is going to be jail time.’’
Vitt’s comments came a day after the Associated Press reported that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams testified in recent NFL appeal hearings that he tried to stop the Saints’ bounty program, only to be overruled by Vitt.
The AP obtained transcripts from the closed-door hearings, which were held for Vilma and three other players who had been punished in the bounty probe.
Vitt called Williams a liar repeatedly during his appeal hearing testimony, even saying Williams ‘‘has lost his mind in some situations.’’
Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been defending the integrity of his coaches, saying Wednesday it was hard to believe the NFL based its case on the testimony of Williams and former defensive assistant Mike Cerullo, ‘‘two disgruntled employees that were fired here because they did not fit the mold of what we are about.’’
Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was appointed by Goodell to handle the players’ appeals, and on Tuesday overturned their suspensions.
However, he affirmed many of the findings of the bounty probe and found that three players, with the exception of former New Orleans linebacker Scott Fujita, committed ‘‘conduct detrimental’’ to the league.
Vitt declined to say Thursday whether he expects to bring any legal action of his own, though he had testified before Tagliabue that he will sue Cerullo.
Ryan limits Tebow
Tim Tebow’s days of running the Jets’ wildcat-style offense appear over for now.
Coach Rex Ryan said the backup quarterback, recovering from two broken ribs, will be active Monday night for the team’s game at Tennessee, but will likely only play in the conventional offense if starter Mark Sanchez goes down with an injury.
That means no wildcat or participating as the punt protector on special teams.
Tebow has not played in the Jets’ last three games after being hurt Nov. 11 at Seattle.
Newly re-acquired wide receiver Braylon Edwards was limited with a hamstring issue, but passed his physical with the Jets and Ryan expects him to play against the Titans.
Bryant wants in
Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant says he will play with a broken finger Sunday against Pittsburgh and there are signs that it might not be wishful thinking. Bryant was listed as a limited participant in practice Thursday, an upgrade from a day earlier, when he sat out. The third-year pro fractured his left index finger in last weekend’s 20-19 win at Cincinnati . . . Robert Griffin III moved better on his sprained right knee at practice, apparently improving his chances of playing in the Redskins’ game Sunday against the Browns. Coach Mke Shanahan reiterated that he plans to wait as long as possible to announce whether Griffin will start . . . The manslaughter case against Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent will likely require several more days of investigation by police, authorities said. Brent is free on bond after the accident Saturday morning that killed practice squad player Jerry Brown. Irving police said they were also still waiting on results from a blood-alcohol test for Brent.