New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, right, said in an affadavit that teammate… (Bill Haber / Associated…)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees defended teammate Jonathan Vilma in a court document filed Saturday to support Vilma's fight against the NFL over his season-long suspension.
The affidavit was entered in federal court in New Orleans as evidence for Vilma's motion to dismiss the 2012 suspension imposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, for the linebacker's alleged involvement in a program offering bonuses to players who injure opponents. Vilma has sued Goodell, claiming defamation.
Brees, who signed a five-year, $100-million contract this month to stay with the Saints, also swears that he wasn't aware of any bounty program.
"I have no knowledge of a pay to injure program existing, and yet to personally see any evidence that would substantiate these allegations," Brees says in the affidavit. "In my four years as a teammate with Jonathan, I have found that he is a man of integrity who passionately plays the game of football within the frameworks of the rules and has respect for his opponents."
Brees also praises Vilma's leadership role on the team and his importance to the community. Brees says Vilma has been dedicated to helping the city recover from Hurricane Katrina and has started a foundation to build schools in Haiti.
Vilma and Saints coach Sean Payton have been suspended for the 2012 season for their roles in the bounty program the NFL says went on for three seasons.
Vilma was scheduled to have a hearing on his motion Thursday. The league wants the case dismissed because the collective bargaining agreement reached last August to end the lockout gives the commissioner the authority to punish players for "conduct detrimental" to the NFL. TheNFL Players Assn.has sued the league, claiming Goodell violated the league's labor agreement by showing he had predetermined the guilt of players punished in the bounty probe before serving as the arbitrator for their June 18 appeal hearing.
U.S. runner stripped of Athens gold medal
American runner Crystal Cox was stripped of her gold medal from the 1,600-meter relay at the 2004 Athens Olympics on Saturday after admitting to doping, while the IOC put off a decision on whether to disqualify the U.S. team.
Cox admitted in 2010 to using anabolic steroids and accepted a four-year suspension and disqualification of her results from 2001 to 2004.
The International Olympic Committee executive board disqualified Cox and took away her gold medal. However, the IOC took no action on the U.S. team victory, which still stands, for now.
Fourth-seeded Andy Roddick beat top-seeded John Isner, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4, in the semifinals of the Atlanta Open. Roddick will play Luxembourg's Gilles Muller in the final on Sunday. Muller beat Go Soeda of Japan, 6-4, 6-3.
Roddick, who has won nine of his last 10 matches, will team up with Isner as U.S. doubles partners in the London Olympics
Second-seeded Dominika Cibulkova beat a visibly tired Nadia Petrova, 7-6 (8), 6-1, to reach the finals of the Mercury Insurance Open at Carlsbad. Cibulkova, looking for her first title of the season, will face either top-seeded Marion Bartoli of France or qualifier Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan in Sunday's final.
Acclamation led all the way in defeating Interaction by 23/4 lengths to win the $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes for the second straight year at Del Mar.
Ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, Acclamation ran 11/8 miles on the turf in 1:46.86 and paid $3, $2.60 and $2.10. Casino Host finished third.
A year ago, Acclamation won by 31/4 lengths and covered the distance in 1:46.99 for trainer Don Warren.
The Minnesota Timberwolves signed restricted free agent Greg Stiemsma to an offer sheet. The agreement made Saturday gives the Boston Celtics three days to match the offer or let the big man go to Minnesota. Terms were not immediately available.
Scott Stallings took a four-stroke lead in the True South Classic at Madison, Miss., after shooting six under through the first 10 holes of the third round at Annandale Golf Club. Heavy rain has led to several weather delays in the tournament.
Billy Horschel, Heath Slocum and Jason Bohn are tied for second place at 14 under.
James Buescher took the lead from Timothy Peters on the last lap, then held off a charge from Brendan Gaughan to win the NASCAR Truck Series race at Chicagoland Speedway at Joliet, Ill.