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Joe Vitt defends Saints players, staff and himself

Interim coach Joe Vitt remains fired up that his name was lumped in among those accused of funding the New Orleans Saints' "bounty" program.

Vitt released a statement Wednesday, denying he pledged any money to a pay-for-injury pool. He later elaborated on his viewpoint -- and defended Saints players -- in a conversation with The Times-Picayune.

"I stated from Day 1 to investigators -- and I hope they took good notes -- our players have done nothing wrong. Nothing wrong," Vitt said. "Our players never crossed the white lines with an intent to injure anybody."

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Vitt believes suspended Saints coaches, players and management don't have a chance to clear their names in an open forum.

"The bylaws of the National Football League supersede the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights," he said.

Vitt reiterated to The Times-Picayune that he never heard the word "bounty" until league investigators started using the term to describe the Saints' practices. He also denied any knowledge of a bounty on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC Championship Game. In evidence shown to the media Monday, Vitt was shown to have contributed $5,000 to a $30,000 pool on Favre's head.

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.

While Vitt denies Favre was targeted, he acknowledged the atmosphere leading up to the NFC title game might have gotten "out of hand."

"We were fired up the night before the NFC Championship Game," Vitt said. "It was a fired-up meeting. It was a fever pitch and we had to have a fever pitch because it was a heck of a game. We were four quarters away from going to the Super Bowl."

Vitt's feeling -- and one that matches the overall sentiment of Saints players, coaches and management -- is that the league overstepped its boundaries and made accusations it couldn't back up with hard evidence. He specifically cited the handwritten note that allegedly tied him to the Favre bounty.

"There's gotta be some concerns from the league's standpoint and anybody's standpoint about the authenticity of any of these documents," he said. "I think that's a huge concern. It looks like that document has been falsified or tampered with. What kind of credibility do they have if they take documents like that and show it to players?"

Vitt doesn't see the league's accusations holding up if the case winds up in the courts.

Said Vitt: "The truth is starting to come out."

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