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Vitt defends Loomis

FBI joins probe of latest allegations

Associated Press / April 25, 2012
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While state police and the FBI start a wiretapping probe into the Saints and general manager Mickey Loomis, assistant head coach Joe Vitt is calling the allegations that Loomis had his Superdome booth wired so he could listen to opposing coaches “ludicrous.’’

“It’s absolutely ludicrous. It’s impossible,’’ Vitt said Tuesday. “I’ve never heard of it before. That’s something from ‘Star Wars.’ When I first heard something about it being a wiretap, I thought they were talking about Sammy “the Bull’’ Gravano or something. I didn’t even know what they were talking about.

“And then to associate Mickey with that? That’s irresponsible. It’s a shame.’’

A joint Louisiana state police and FBI task force began investigating the allegations Tuesday, one day after they were made by anonymous sources in an ESPN report.

Loomis and the Saints have called the allegations “1000 percent false,’’ and have said they are reviewing legal recourse following the report by ESPN, which could not verify the system was used.

Vitt alsosaid his six-game suspension stems from the words he used in motivational speeches, and he stresses that players never “crossed the line’’ by trying to injure an opponent.

Vitt is handling head coach Sean Payton’s duties while Payton serves a season-long suspension in connection with the NFL’s bounty investigation, which concluded that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams offered improper cash bonuses for hits that hobbled targeted opponents.

Vitt said he is “100 percent on board’’ with NFL player safety goals and will change the way he talks to players while still urging them to play with the force and effort that reduces opponents’ will to compete.

Samuel to Falcons?

The Falcons are in negotiations to acquire cornerback Asante Samuel from the Eagles. A trade for Samuel would provide a highlight to what has been a relatively quiet offseason in Atlanta, which has worked to retain its free agents instead of making a splash through trades or free agency. Samuel’s contract calls for him to earn $9.9 million in 2012 and $11.4 million in 2013. He might rework the deal to help the trade fit the Falcons’ salary cap . . . Saints outside linebacker Jonathan Casillas rejoined the club for offseason workouts after the restricted free agent signed his tender worth approximately $1.3 million . . . The Redskins signed free agent linebacker Chris Wilson, who returns to the team after two years in the CFL.

Players file suit

The NFL has been sued by 28 former players in federal court in Houston, accused of covering a known link between concussions and permanent brain injuries. The lawsuit was filed on behalf NFL Hall of Famers Randy White, Bob Lilly and Rayfield Wright, and other former Cowboys and NFL stars are among the plaintiffs. They claim the NFL failed to act effectively to protect its players from brain injuries and the dementia that sometimes resulted later in life . . . The Vikings have taken steps toward adding free agent Jerome Simpson, the ex-Bengals receiver with a felony drug conviction and what GM Rick Spielman called “freak-type’’ athleticism. Spielman confirmed the interest in Simpson, who was sentenced April 5 to 15 days in jail after authorities said they tracked a shipment of 2 1/2 pounds of marijuana to his Kentucky home in September . . . Deion Sanders’s estranged wife, Pilar, denied she attacked her husband at their Texas home and said she’s not getting a fair shake because of her husband’s stature as a former star player for the Cowboys.

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