Beyond the Visor: Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Coach Joe Vitt

With Dave's story on Scott Shanle appearing earlier today, it seems only fitting that this second edition of Beyond the Visor jumps over to the other side of the ball and provides some background on the position coach responsible for the beleaguered Shanle: Joe Vitt. (to see the first Beyond the Visor, go here)

Vitt was one of Sean Payton's early hires in 2006, and he brought a wealth of experience with him, which is chronicled for you after the jump. 

Joe Vitt was born on August 23, 1954, in Syracuse, New York, and played linebacker at Towson State in Maryland (as it turns out, both Vitt and Jermon Bushrod are Towson Tigers - ROAR!!!!). Vitt's play earned him a spot in the Towson State Hall of Fame, and he was part of an undefeated team in 1974. 

Joe left Towson in 1979, and joined the coaching staff of the Baltimore Colts, where he was strength/quality control coach until 1981. 

Vitt spent the next 10 years (1982-1991) with the Seattle Seahawks, going from defensive quality control coach/assistant strength & conditioning coach to quality control/assistant linebackers coach and then on to coach of the safeties.

Coach Chuck Knox took Vitt to Los Angeles with him, where Knox assigned him the roles of assistant head coach and defensive backs coach from 1992-94, just before the Rams moved to St. Louis.

The Philadelphia Eagles gave Vitt his next job as linebackers coach, from 1995-98. It was during this time that Vitt and Sean Payton first coached on the same staff.

After Vitt spent the 1999 season in Titletown as the Green Bay Packers defensive backs coach, working with another future Saint - Darren Sharper, he landed in Kansas City as linebackers coach, where he stayed from 2000-2003. And guess which familiar face he coached there...Scott Fujita.

His final stop before signing on with the Saints was in St. Louis with the Rams from 2004-2005, where he was elevated from assistant head coach/linebackers coach to head coach for the final 11 games of 2005, after Mike Martz was no longer emplyed as head coach.

Pete Finney's nola.com column on Joe Vitt from August 2010, recalling the hire: 

Joe Vitt was one of Sean Payton's first hires in 2006. Payton was a brand new NFL head coach, and he wanted someone who had been around the block a few times.

 
Payton wanted an assistant head coach, someone who would function as his "consigliere," an adviser, a counselor, to the Boss.


When Vitt was offered the job, did he think his longtime friend had ideas of running the Saints like the Mafia?
Vitt roars.


"You know what, " he said. "I felt like I was going to work for Forrest Gump. Remember him? He never had a bad day in his life. That's how Sean impressed me when we were assistants in Philadelphia. What I saw was someone whose life was balanced. He was a coach with passion, with an attention to detail, but that never got in the way of family. When I first met him, he and Beth had their first child, and there was Sean, mixing his coaching duties with a new arrival who had colic. Sean took it all in stride."

On the personal side, Vitt is married to Linda, enjoys playing golf, and he has two children (Joe Jr, and Jennifer) and a grandchild.

Information for this story came from the Finney column mentioned above and the coach's section of the Saints official team site.

For more insight into just what in the heck a "quality control" coach in the NFL does, check out this New York Times piece from 2009.

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