New Orleans Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt was named the team's interim… (Jonathan Bachman / Associated…)
Sean Payton handed over control of his team to Joe Vitt once before, and the New Orleans Saints have decided to do it again.
The Saints on Thursday named Payton's trusted second-in-command their interim coach, despite the fact that Vitt will miss a third of the season for his role in New Orleans' bounty system.
For his part, Payton received a season-long suspension that begins Monday; Vitt, who takes over Monday, was handed a six-game suspension.
Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said in his announcement that the team will address at a later time how to divvy up Vitt's responsibilities during his six-week absence.
Vitt, who carries the titles of assistant head coach and linebackers coach, briefly stepped in as acting head coach last season when Payton broke his leg. Vitt also was interim coach with St. Louis in 2005 before joining New Orleans as part of Payton's first staff in 2006.
Vitt will be able to oversee the off-season training program and training camp before stepping aside for the first six weeks of the regular season.
The Bengals traded linebacker Keith Rivers to the New York Giants for a fifth-round draft pick, ending his four-year stay in Cincinnati marred by frequent injuries.
Rivers, who played for USC, sat out all last season recovering from surgery on his right wrist. He has been limited to 35 games in four seasons.
The Oakland Raiders signed former Cal State Fullerton basketball player Andre Hardy to a free-agent contract.
The Raiders announced they would bring Hardy in as a tight end. The 25-year-old Hardy hasn't played football since high school.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Hardy averaged 8.0 points and 6.7 rebounds the last two seasons for the Titans. He previously played two seasons of basketball for Oral Roberts.
Alex Karras, the former Detroit Lions defensive tackle and TV and movie actor, is the lead plaintiff in the latest lawsuit brought against the NFL by ex-players who say the league didn't properly protect them from concussions.
Karras and his wife, Susan Clark, are the first two of 119 plaintiffs in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, where dozens such cases are pending.
Clark, who also played the wife of Karras' character on the 1980s sitcom "Webster," said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press that the 76-year-old Karras learned he had dementia about seven years ago. She said day-to-day life "would be very difficult for him without help."
Karras was an All-Pro in 1960, 1961 and 1965. He made the Pro Bowl four times.
Trio shares first-round lead
Chad Campbell used a fast start, and Vaughn Taylor and Colt Knost had strong finishes to share the first-round lead at four-under-par 67 in the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Jim Furyk, the 2010 winner, was a stroke back along with Harris English, Charlie Wi and Matt Every at Harbour Town Golf Links.
Top-ranked Luke Donald opened with a 75. He must finish eighth or better to maintain the top spot.
Four months after announcing his retirement from racing, jockey Patrick Valenzuela will return for the start of the Hollywood Park meeting on April 26, according to his agent, Tom Knust.
"He was having a lot of personal problems before," Knust said. "His mind is good now. He feels he misses racing and feels he has three, four good years left."
Valenzuela, 49, has 4,233 victories in his career and rode Sunday Silence to victory in the 1989 Kentucky Derby.
Knust said he expects Valenzuela to start exercising horses beginning next week.
Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge will have surgery on his right hip and miss the rest of the season.
The team said no date has been set for the arthroscopic procedure, which will repair a slight labral tear.