Attorney Peter Ginsberg, who represents Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma in the bounty appeal and the defamation lawsuit filed against Commissioner Roger Goodell, has issued a statement in response to Friday’s stories regarding the ledger that supposedly documents bounty payments to Saints players.
Ginsberg calls the report “yet more evidence of how misguided and irresponsible Commissioner Goodell has been in handling this issue.”
The lawyer then raises three alleged deficiencies regarding the leaked ledger evidence: (1) the information identifies no specific players who were injured or paid; (2) statistics from the 2009 game between the Saints and the Panthers, for which three $1,000 payments allegedly were made, “show that opposing defensive players, not offensive players, were the brunt of any physical plays”; and (3) the payments made, regardless of the name applied, reflected “good, clean, legal plays, and . . . any dirty or penalized play resulted in fines to players, not awards.”
Ginsberg then offers a general comment on Vilma’s role in the alleged bounty program: “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.”
That final paragraph invites questions as to whether Vilma gave money, incentive, and/or encouragement to knock a player out of a game with a clean or sportsmanlike hit. Either way, this controversy won’t be resolved until someone/anyone discloses all evidence of player guilt and/or innocence.