Soccer

Saints coach: Witnesses lied in NFL investigation

201212121626591973725-p2.jpeg

Saints coach: Witnesses lied in NFL investigation

METAIRIE, La. (AP) 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 U.S. 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.

Those same transcripts show Vitt later denied Williams' allegation and offered to take a lie detector test, adding, ``There's a lot of lying going on right now.''

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 Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, committed ``conduct detrimental'' to the league.

Vitt has been serving as the Saints' interim head coach this season, except for six games when he was suspended. Saints head coach Sean Payton was suspended the entire season and general manager Mickey Loomis eight games.

The players had fought their bounty punishment with the help of their union, through the NFL's collective bargaining agreement and in federal court.

``Myself, Sean and Mickey didn't have that right,'' Vitt said, referring to the fact they did not have union representation. ``I've already served my time. Mickey has already served his time. And to be quite frank with you, I don't know what door to knock on Park Avenue (where NFL headquarters are located) to get my reputation back. But again, I'm going to defend our players, I'm going to defend this organization and I'm going to defend our ownership.''

Vitt declined to say on Thursday whether he expects to bring any legal action of his own, though he had testified before Tagliabue that he will sue Cerullo.

Although Vilma's case is pending, the judge denied the linebacker's request this week to begin the discovery process that includes the gathering of evidence and deposing of witnesses, and she is still considering an NFL motion to dismiss the case.

When asked if he could take action against Goodell or the league, Vitt responded, ``There's nothing. It's history,'' but then added, ``We'll all be before a federal judge. That's coming. We'll all be before the federal judge. And the one great thing about this country - the truth is going to prevail.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Premier League Roundup: Manager Dean Smith confirms Jonathan Kodjia's ankle injury

dani-ceballos-spain-ap.jpg
Associated Press

Premier League Roundup: Manager Dean Smith confirms Jonathan Kodjia's ankle injury

We're less than two weeks into Premier League Season and things have already shaken up. Between dramatic draws, undeserved penalties and raucous fans, saying there's excitement going into Matchday 3 would be an understatement. 

Here's the latest news and notes surrounding the Premier League:

Team/Player News

Aston Villa: In lieu of opening weekend, Jonathan Kodjia's "high ankle sprain" has been confirmed by manager Dean Smith. This prevented the forward from any involvement At Villa Park, and could leave him sidelined until the end of August. But Kodjia's not alone: manager Smith proved himself to be the bearer of bad news yet again after confirming Kortney Hause's ankle injury that he picked up in Leipzig. The defender is still recovering.

Arsenal: It looks like the Gunner's busy pre-season ride was worth it. Winning both games this season, Dani Ceballos played an integral role in their second victory, setting up both Arsenal goals and leading the team to a 2-1 home win. 

Burnley: The Clarets were humbled this weekend (refresher: their matchday 1 game resulted in a 3-0 victory for Burnley), after the Gunners got the best of them and won 2-1. However, Ashley Barnes has been a consistent positive attribute to the team despite their rollercoaster of a start. Barnes has completed three goals in two matches, and his hot streak is expected to continue. 

Norwich City: The team dominated Newcastle in a 3-1 victory in their home opener, and they gave their fans quite the show in the process. Teemu Pukki recorded a hat-trick to loud and supportive home support, and the striker now leads the Premier League with four goals in two games. Between a stunning volley, and teaming up with midfielder Todd Cantwell for two goals/assists in the course of 12 minutes to finish off the Magpies, Pukki has risen to the top of everybody's fantasy team wish lists. 

Liverpool: Sadio Mane's start to the season was an exciting one. With the game tied, the Senegalese international made a move to his right before unleashing a deadly right-footed blast to give the Reds the lead. Liverpool continued to hold their own and finished victoriously 2-1 over Southampton, giving them six points within just two games.

Southampton: Maybe dropping Danny Ings from the starting XI wasn't the Saints' best idea. Following a drastic loss during week 1, Southampton entered their match against Liverpool hoping to shake things up. The team fell flat, losing 2-1, forward Danny Ings was able to make an impact once he was let off the bench. The forward scored the Saints' only goal in two games and the team is hoping for their first positive result next weekend against Brighton.

Manchester City: City have spent the entirety of this season so far crushing statistics. The team registered 32 shots to Tottenham's three, had 34 crosses to Tottenham's seven and took 13 corners to Tottenham's two. But these sweet plays weren't enough: the Spurs held their own and Manchester City ended their match on August 17th with a 2-2 tie. Kevin De Bruyne was the focal point for both goals.

Tottenham Hotspurs: Forward Erik Lamela can be accredited for both goals, assisting one and scoring another, and allowing the team to just barely escape The Etihad and end with a tie. Not long after City scored the opening point, a pass from Tanguy Ndombele set Lamela up with a bending effort from 20 yards out for his first goal, and the forward later landed an unstoppable corner.

Leicester City: Wilfred Ndidi was on both sides of the coin last game: both giving up and scoring a goal as Leicester City and Chelsea drew 1-1. In the first, Mason Mount picked Wilfred Ndidi’s pocket and coolly shot the ball by Kasper Schmeichel for his first Chelsea goal and the 1-0 advantage. Later in the game, Chelsea’s zonal marking broke down as Maddison found Ndidi on a corner for the second goal of the game.

Everton: Left-back Lucas Digne limped off with a suspected hamstring injury on Saturday, but fears were squashed after Everton boss Marco Silva alluded to the injury being "nothing special." But beware of wishful thinking: a trip to Villa Park doesn't seem likely (or realistic) for Digne.

Wolverhampton: Man United spent much time hosting a crowded box, but it wasn't enough to keep Wolves' Raul Neves from shooting through the defense, leading to a 1-1 draw. Neves' goal was followed by a Paul Pogba miss on an undeserved penalty, and the match ended in a tie.

Source: NBC Sports Rotoworld

MORE SOCCER NEWS:  

Quick Links

Hot day of joint practice between Ravens and Eagles cut short

Hot day of joint practice between Ravens and Eagles cut short

PHILADELPHIA — On a day with the heat index at 100 degrees, the Ravens first joint practice in Philadelphia against one of the favorites to come out of the NFC ended about 45 minutes short.

This week is the Ravens' second joint practice of August, the first of which came when the Jaguars came to Baltimore for two days of practice before the preseason opener. 

“The best thing is I think the tempo ramps up a little bit,” coach John Harbaugh said on joint practices. “You get different guys, different schemes. I do think it notches up one or two clicks, which is good for you. This is a really talented football team, the Eagles, so we get a chance to see some really good players.”

Even with some positive feelings from the practice, there were, and still are, a few question marks about the Ravens and their available bodies. 

Kenneth Dixon, Gus Edwards, and Miles Boykin were notable absences from practice from the start. Left guard Jermaine Eluemanor left practice early, and Ronnie Stanley and Mark Ingram didn’t take reps towards the end of practice.

With the heat beating down, it’s unclear if they were related to the weather. Harbaugh had no updates after practice, for players that missed the entirety, or players that left early.

The practice was ruled by defense, though, as the Ravens offense had trouble scoring in the red zone most of the afternoon. One of the biggest highlights, however, was a diving catch by Mark Andrews in the back of the end zone. 

“The red zone is tough, the red zone is faster, coverage is tighter,” Harbaugh said. “Things have to be executed more quickly, more decisively. The windows are going to be closing quicker, they’re going to be smaller. Timing is really important, execution is everything. For a young quarterback, it’s a fast game as it is.”

Defensively, the Ravens secondary held its own against a talented Eagles offense. 

Notably, however, Earl Thomas was beaten on a deep route by Alshon Jeffery on a pass from Carson Wentz.

“What I’ve drawn from the last two joint practices is the competitive juices you get from going against a new team,” Thomas said. “Carson Wentz is not a pushover, it’s good to go against him. It’s good to go against that offense. Tight ends are pretty good, receivers are pretty good.”

The Ravens will practice with the Eagles once again tomorrow before a day off on Wednesday. The two will play, officially, on Thursday in the team’s third preseason game. 

Until then, they’ll just focus on getting better against a team that’s one of the league’s best.

“You see different routes, you see different combinations in the passing game, you see different quarterbacks,” Thomas said. “All of that is great.”

MORE RAVENS NEWS: