Attached to the grievances filed by the NFLPA on Thursday are copies of the May 2 letters informing the four suspended players of their penalties.
The letter to Jonathan Vilma from Commissioner Roger Goodell contains an interesting comment regarding the question of whether Vilma was given an opportunity to be heard before the one-year suspension was imposed. On that point, there have been conflicting accounts regarding whether the NFL indeed offered such an opportunity.
“Your counsel contacted our office in mid-March to request an opportunity to be heard prior to a determination of discipline,” Goodell writes. “You were offered the opportunity to do so, which your counsel then declined.”
Goodell also explains that the NFL asked the NFLPA to facilitate a meeting with Vilma, and that the NFLPA declined.
Vilma’s ultimate decision not to meet with Goodell likely was driven by a broader legal strategy aimed at giving the NFL as little ammunition as possible for crafting the penalties. And that could help Vilma in whatever court or tribunal or forum his appeal is eventually heard. But it may not have been the best P.R. strategy, if Vilma truly is innocent.
Regardless, the fact that Vilma’s lawyer initially wanted a meeting shows that the lawyer changed strategies in midstream — the next question is why?