NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, two former teammates and New Orleans assistant head coach Joe Vitt have all told a federal judge under oath Thursday that Vilma never put up cash for tackles that injured opponents.
Vilma is trying to persuade U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan to temporarily allow him to return to the Saints while his lawsuit against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell proceeds.
Goodell has suspended Vilma a full season for what the NFL has said was his leadership role in a bounty program.
Retired Saints testifying on Vilma's behalf were linebacker Troy Evans and defensive back Randall Gay.
Vilma has also testified that his suspension, and the harm it has done his reputation, is hindering his rehabilitation from knee surgery, as well as his ability get financing for side businesses and raise money for his charitable school-building projects in Haiti.
Several current Saints defensive players were slated to testify later in Thursday's hearing.