METARIE, La. – Saints linebackers coach Joe Vitt attended practice Wednesday in a motorized scooter, his right leg immobilized because of the Achilles tendon injury he received chasing away a pair of car burglars over the weekend.
Because it is apparent that the 61-year-old Vitt will be fine and has shown a sense of humor about how he became enfeebled, the Saints haven’t missed the opportunity to have some laughs at the veteran coach’s expense.
“Joe Vitt is on the injury report,” Saints coach Sean Payton said Wednesday. “He’d probably be listed as doubtful. He tore his Achilles and broke his wrist, so he’s on a little scooter.”
Vitt has been with the Saints since Payton took over as head coach in 2006. When Payton was suspended for all of the 2012 season in connection with the NFL’s bounty investigation, Vitt served as the head coach for the final 10 games that season after serving his own six-game ban.
His injuries occurred, Payton said, early Saturday morning, when Vitt confronted a pair of burglars in cars parked outside his and a neighbor’s suburban New Orleans homes. According to Jefferson Parish police, a man and a woman had entered cars belonging to Vitt and one of his neighbors. When Vitt confronted them, they fled, and Vitt gave chase until he fell and injured himself.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees has often spoken of his appreciation for Vitt’s ability to give inspiring speeches to the team, or tell colorful stories about his decades of experience in the NFL.
The Saints QB grinned when asked how Vitt is handling his “limited” status back at team headquarters this week.
“Just listening to Joe Vitt tell the story about it is priceless, because he’s a great storyteller,” Brees said. “We’re all able to laugh about it. I’m just glad he’s OK. In true Joe Vitt fashion, he said to me, and kind of shook his head, ‘I’m not going to let you down. I’m here every day. I’m going to be grinding. I just can’t jog from drill to drill. I have to push the button on the cart.’
“He’s just the same old Joe Vitt.”
Knowing Vitt, Brees said he was hardly shocked the Saints assistant head coach tried to confront the burglars himself.
“It was absolutely what I would expect him to do,” Brees said. “I was like, ‘Is there any inkling to call the cops?’ That’s what the police are for. … Let’s chase after these guys in your socks. It’s some good stuff all around.”
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