[Editor’s note: Peter Ginsberg, who represents Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, issued on Saturday a “Statement Regarding the NFL’s So-Called Ledger.” The full text of the statement appears below.]
The story published by Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports yesterday quoting two anonymous sources suggesting that there exists a supposed ledger showing the existence of a Bounty Program run by the New Orleans Saints is yet more evidence of how misguided and irresponsible Commissioner Goodell has been in handling this issue. Even the sources’ own description of the “ledger” undermines the Commissioner’s allegations and accusations:
- Commissioner Goodell accuses Saints players of putting money on the head of specific opposing players – the so-called ledger, as described by the anonymous sources, identifies no players, either Saints or opposing players;
- Commissioner Goodell accuses the Saints defensive teams with having operated a Bounty Program – statistics of the 2009 Buffalo Bills game, which the anonymous sources first identified as the game in question, and the 2009 Carolina Panthers game, which the sources now claim is the game in question, show that opposing defensive players, not offensive players, were the brunt of any physical plays; and
- Commissioner Goodell must know, having been told by the author of the so-called ledger as well as by numerous other people, that a Saints assistant coach passed out minimal amounts of money for good, clean, legal plays, and that the “whacks” and “cart-off,” though regrettably named, were descriptions of good, clean, legal plays, and that any dirty or penalized play resulted in fines to players, not awards.
The truth is that Jonathan Vilma gave no money, incentive or encouragement ever – not at any time in his eight-year career – to injure or knock out of any game any player with a dirty or unsportsmanlike hit. The facts are plain and simple. During the three seasons in question, Jonathan Vilma was one of the least penalized players not only on the Saints but in the NFL. There is not one instance in which Jonathan Vilma set out to injure a player or gave any incentive to another player to injure an opposing player.