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Saints coach: Witnesses lied in NFL investigation

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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.''

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Early favorites for Wizards' 1st round pick; Mark Turgeon joins the show

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Early favorites for Wizards' 1st round pick; Mark Turgeon joins the show

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon at the NBA Combine.

Turgeon talked about his three draft-eligible players and what this time is like advising them. Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their early favorites for the Wizards' first round pick and their biggest takeaways from the NBA Combine measurements.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Redskins G Arie Kouandjio likely out for the season

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Redskins G Arie Kouandjio likely out for the season

The news about Arie Kouandjio’s quad injury didn’t sound good when NBC Sports Washington broke it a couple of weeks ago. It didn’t sound any better when Jay Gruden said that they were seeking a second opinion. 

And now we have word that Kouandjio will be out for the season, per multiple media reports. While there was some initial hope that he might be able to play at some point this season, he is likely to be put on injured reserve soon. 

The corresponding move is expected to be the signing of guard Isaiah Williams, per JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington. He spent training camp with the Redskins in 2016 and 2017 before being released in the final cuts. Last year he also spent time with the Chiefs and the Colts but he has yet to appear in an NFL game. 

At worst, the Redskins have lost their starter at left guard. Kouandjio was set to compete with Shawn Lauvao for that job. Lauvao, who has been the starter at left guard going into the season for each of the last four years, would have been tough to unseat, but the 26-year-old Kouandjio may have had the inside track.

And at best, the Redskins lost experienced depth. Last year, when injuries hit hard along the offensive line, Kouandjio was re-signed and he started six games. It’s tough to lose experienced depth before the players even put pads on.

We will see if the Redskins make a move to shore up the guard position. Over the next couple of weeks, teams will be evaluating their veteran players and their rookies to see if they have younger and cheaper options. That could lead to some serviceable players getting released or some quality options being put on the trading block. 

The Redskins likely are set to get four compensatory draft picks in 2019, which would give them a total of 11 selections. They certainly could afford to deal one of those picks if they are offered a chance to upgrade at left guard. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.