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Vilma complaint outlines all alleged flaws in bounty case

Jonathan Vilma Portrait Shoot Getty Images

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma may have passed on the opportunity to prove his case for innocence in front of Commissioner Roger Goodell, but Vilma has unloaded in a 27-page, 180-paragraph civil complaint.

In Vilma’s new lawsuit against the NFL, a copy of which PFT has obtained, lawyer Peter Ginsberg details every alleged flaw in the case against Vilma, and to a certain extent the other players suspended for involvement in the Saints bounty program.

Heavy on factual contentions and light on legal theories, the lawsuit requests only two things:  (1) an order of “specific performance” requiring Goodell to rule on the bounty appeals; and (2) a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction preventing the league from implementing the suspension against Vilma if the suspension is upheld.

Along the way, Ginsberg makes the following claims on behalf of Vilma:

1.  Vilma was willing to meet with Goodell before the one-year suspension was imposed, but Vilma wanted to review in advance the materials gathered by the league “‘which the NFL contend[ed] provided a basis to investigate Vilma.’”  In exchange, “Vilma offered to provide the NFL with complete ‘detail[] [of] Vilma’s knowledge regarding [the Bounty Program] allegations.”  The league declined to do so, so Vilma declined to meet with Goodell.

2.  Goodell issued a “gag order” on former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, preventing him from speaking to about about the investigation.

3.  Goodell made “personal conclusions and described possible discipline” of players in a March 21 press release, even though he had not disciplined any players and planned to eventually serve as the supposedly impartial arbitrator.

Ginsberg also outlines the alleged flaws in the investigation, focusing on the follwing:

1.  The refusal to make certain witnesses available at the June 18 appeal hearing;

2.  The failure to deliver the exhibits to be introduced at the June 18 appeal hearing within three days (i.e., 72 hours) of the start of the hearing;

3.  The production of only 16 exhibits consisting of 182 pages from a file that supposedly includes 18,000 total documents and 50,000 total pages;

4.  The failure to produce any notes taken during witness interviews;

5.  The failure to produce original documents;

6.  The refusal to produce any potentially exculpatory evidence;

7.  The reliance on documents generated after the discipline were imposed;

8.  The alleged mischaracterization of the Anthony Hargrove declaration;

9.  The alleged mischaracterization of the Anthony Hargrove video from the 2009 NFC title game;

10.  The alleged mischaracterization of the September 2011 Mike Ornstein email message regarding an alleged $5,000 bounty on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers;

11.  The failure to include the September 2011 Mike Ornstein email message in the evidence to be introduced at the appeal hearing;

12.  The alleged mischaracterization of the 2009 email message from Ornstein to Williams, which Vilma claims reflects a commitment by Ornstein to contribute money to Williams’ charitable organization (Ornstein allegedly explained this to Goodell, urging him to confirm it via the charity’s financial documents);

13.  Ornstein’s contradiction of the claim that he corroborated the allegation that Vilma placed a $10,000 bounty on Brett Favre prior to the 2009 NFC title game;

14.  The failure to make Ornstein available to testify at the June 18 appeal hearing or to produce notes of his interview(s);

15.  The strong denial by Saints interim coach Joe Vitt that Vilma placed a bounty on Favre or anyone else;

16.  The failure of the league to disclose that Williams never acknowledged to the NFL the existence of a bounty program;

17.  The alleged problems with the ledger information apparently leaked to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports on June 1, 2012, and the failure of the league to introduce the ledger as evidence at the June 18 appeal hearing;

18.  The reliance upon the statements of Mike Cerullo, a disgruntled former Saints employee;

19.  The problems with the typewritten version of handwritten notes regarding the bounty on Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, which Vilma contends were created “well after” the 2009 NFC title game;

20.  The failure to issue a ruling on the appeal by Monday June 25, 2012, one full week after appeal hearings at which Vilma offered no substantive defense.

It’s unknown whether Vilma will get a chance to prove all of these allegations, and whether his ability to do so will result in his suspension being overturned.  It’s clear, however, that “Phase Two” has begun — and that it could last a lot longer than Phase One.

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68 Responses to “Vilma complaint outlines all alleged flaws in bounty case”
  1. canetic says: Jul 1, 2012 11:32 PM

    21. This lawsuit is a meaningless publicity stunt. This Court has no power to do anything because it was all covered by the CBA which was bargained between the players and the NFL.

  2. truthfactory says: Jul 1, 2012 11:39 PM

    At the end of the day, Vilma had his chance to defend himself as was agreed in the CBA and he turned it down. That was his choice. He doesn’t get to demand the terms of which his interview with Goodell would happen. He doesn’t have that power, and turned down his opportunity to defend himself. What was Goodell supposed to do? He had evidence against Vilma that was cause for a suspension, he calls Vilma and asks him to come in to see what he has to say about it, and Vilma starts making demands on the terms of the meeting, which he has no right or authority to make such demands.

    Along those lines, if I were to be potentially suspended for doing something that I know for sure I didn’t do, I’d march right into his office and say “I didn’t do Sh**, so PLEASE show me what “evidence” you have against me because I know there’s nothing there because I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!!!”

    If your boss said he has proof of you stealing from the store, but you know you never stole anything, would you even hesitate to walk in there and see what he’s talking about?? NO! If you didn’t steal anything, you walk in there with % confident and nothing to hide or fear because you know you are innocent. Only if you are guilty do you start getting weary and thinking: “crap, I have to see what he has on me first so I know how to defend myself”.

    Vilma had his chance to defend himself as was agreed in the CBA and passed… he could have taken issue with Goodell on any of these issues but didn’t do so. That’s on him.

  3. mdd913 says: Jul 1, 2012 11:39 PM

    I hope all the Saints haters and those so firmly in Goodell’s corner read these points carefully and consider the ramifications…..but I don’t expect it to happen.

  4. mdd913 says: Jul 1, 2012 11:41 PM

    canetic says: Jul 1, 2012 11:32 PM

    21. This lawsuit is a meaningless publicity stunt. This Court has no power to do anything because it was all covered by the CBA which was bargained between the players and the NFL.

    ———————————————————–

    Actually, if it is found that the disciplinary process has been somehow flawed, Vilma has every right to take it to court, making it a very real legal procedure which he would have a very good chance of winning.

  5. ascensionparish says: Jul 1, 2012 11:43 PM

    It might be meaningless to you….now; But Vilma is doing the NFL and its fans a huge service by calling out Der Kommissar amidst the mountain of lawsuits by former players stacks on His desk.

  6. cwwgk says: Jul 1, 2012 11:51 PM

    “Heavy on factual contentions and light on legal theories.” Exactly.

  7. daknight93 says: Jul 2, 2012 12:00 AM

    Goodell face is red now…this mess is getting worse, I’m not sure this is a good move by Vilma…it’s obvious Vilma is doing whatever is necessary to play this season..Goodell is the commissioner and if he has the last say, vilma’s career could be in jeopardy

  8. tommyribs says: Jul 2, 2012 12:00 AM

    Initially – I was convinced the NFL had the SAINTS dead to rights. But the NFL has been very arrogant, and it really looks like a lot of shortcuts were taken and possible half-truths ended up being taken as Gospel.

    We will see how this all shakes out, but this is going to get very, very ugly.

    Goodell better have his ducks in a row on this one because I think his ass could end up being on the line over this.

  9. stanggtman says: Jul 2, 2012 12:01 AM

    I’m so tired of hearing about Vilma’s cry baby antics. He had his chance to defend himself and he turned it down. His loss. He can enjoy watching the games on his couch at home like us.

  10. jessethegreat says: Jul 2, 2012 12:10 AM

    Face it Villain-ma, Goodell is the judge, jury, and executioner and you signed off on it with the new CBA.

    You’re missing the whole point. He doesn’t have to hear your side of the story. Its not a court of law. Its no different than the “conduct detrimental to the team” clause teams often use. Your conduct was detrimental to the entire league. Its not a trial. Its your punishment.

    Does the referee have to listen to any and all appeals when they throw a flag? No. He made a decision in the best interests of the game.

    You sound like a kid that got grounded and still wants to go to the party. “But dad, I really want to go. Everyone’s going to be there”. Everyone else does it too. It was Greg’s idea, not mine. I just went along with it.”

  11. letmesetyoustraight says: Jul 2, 2012 12:12 AM

    Wow. That’s quite the laundry list of complaints. Good to see somebody holding the commisioner’s feet to the fire. You gotta love the idea of Goodell’s veins popping out of his head with every move Vilma makes. Classic!

  12. vikingamericann says: Jul 2, 2012 12:13 AM

    If Vilma gets this to court and wins, I wonder how many people will say we respect the wisdom of judicial institutions of our country? Unfortunately, I think I know the answer to this, but there’s always that chance of a pleasant surprise.

  13. domeinate says: Jul 2, 2012 12:15 AM

    Vilma’s suit uses the 4 elements of the CBA that call into question Goodell’s ruling. Good work. Every little bit got in Goodell has lost the narrative on this one. Vilma’s preemptive strike makes any other contention by the NLF hollow and strident. I luv it

  14. vikingamericann says: Jul 2, 2012 12:19 AM

    truthfactory | Jul 1, 2012, 9:39 PM MDT

    You have my sympathy. I can’t imagine how all these people don’t see the world in such static terms. It must drive you insane. How you have obsessed about the Saints and Vilma and yet they still don’t get it. I mean Why can’t they see it the way you do. Goodell is the boss, the boss is never wrong, you have to do whatever the boss says.

  15. nerdyturdy says: Jul 2, 2012 12:27 AM

    He should go play in the CFL. There is such a thing as “worker’s rights” and even basic human rights, even liberties we Americans enjoy. However, he is not entitled to a job. With all the competition out there, he should shut up and get back to playing when he is allowed.

    The Saints are a franchise of the NFL. Even though he may not have broken Saint’s rules, he broke NFL rules.

  16. sdisme says: Jul 2, 2012 12:30 AM

    truthfactory says:
    Jul 1, 2012 11:39 PM

    At the end of the day, Vilma had his chance to defend himself as was agreed in the CBA and he turned it down. That was his choice. He doesn’t get to demand the terms of which his interview with Goodell would happen. He doesn’t have that power, and turned down his opportunity to defend himself. What was Goodell supposed to do? He had evidence against Vilma that was cause for a suspension, he calls Vilma and asks him to come in to see what he has to say about it, and Vilma starts making demands on the terms of the meeting, which he has no right or authority to make such demands.

    ______________________________

    I’m quite sure you have been told this numerous times, but Vilma was publicly accused by Roger Goodell on day 1.

    He was never given the opportunity to speak with anyone prior to reading about “what he did” in Sports Illustrated.

  17. nrg67766 says: Jul 2, 2012 12:33 AM

    One fundamental flaw in Vilma’s argument:

    The Saints, prior to Bountygate, were one of the NFL’s most popular teams, in large part due to their post-Katrina Renaissance. Given this fact, is it really in the NFL’s best interest to slam one of its most popular teams with such harsh penalties based on what Vilma contends is flimsy evidence?

    Of course not. Goodell is too smart to take such massive measures against one of the league’s most popular teams without clear and obvious evidence. We saw this with Spygate.

    Vilma sounds more like the kid who caught with his hand in the cookie jar and is determined to manipulate his way out of punishment, when it reality he is simply delaying the inevitable.

  18. seanx40 says: Jul 2, 2012 12:38 AM

    Does anyone really think the Commish went thru all of this without a sh#tload of evidence? Do you think he wanted to give the league a huge black eye without proof? Probably a lot more humiliating evidence. Things that would look really bad if revealed. That said, just reveal everything already. Really, just let it come out, and be done with it.

  19. ilovefoolsball says: Jul 2, 2012 12:42 AM

    Funny how it turns out that after all there isn’t a mountain of evidence of a bounty program but rather a mountain of evidence that NFL security has been very ghetto in this entire process.

  20. vtopa says: Jul 2, 2012 12:48 AM

    Every day that passes with this bounty thing, I like Vilma, Brees, and Vitt more and more and respect Goodell less and less.

  21. alan226 says: Jul 2, 2012 1:01 AM

    I have no love lost for Vilma. I don’t even know if he is guilty or not.

    Having said that that, he wasn’t going to get a fair hearing. The deck was stacked against him from the beginning. If he can get to court with this, he will win…..

  22. srbumblebeeman says: Jul 2, 2012 1:02 AM

    And I thought all the lockout/CBA talk last year was repetitive, annoying and boring.

  23. benberger says: Jul 2, 2012 1:13 AM

    It’s also clear that the NFL didn’t take into account houses that have more than two television sets when they compiled to ratings for San Diego news programs … and other things of that nature.

  24. marcinhouston says: Jul 2, 2012 1:19 AM

    The CBA gives Goodell power but that power comes with the responsibility to remain impartial and mentally competent. There is nothing impartial or competent about this investigation. The Hargrove video is just one great example, the NFL could not tell who said the words or even if it was some fan in the background misremembering a quote from Jerry McGuire so they just pinned it on the guy who they already had enough leverage on from his drug program history, got him to sign something that was not much of a confession and claimed it was, then claimed the video showed something it didn’t. We should all be against the NFL on this, because the NFL is assuming we are stupid, and if we accept the evidence they have given so far then we are.

  25. 2112ruler says: Jul 2, 2012 1:25 AM

    Wonder if Vilma will use the Chewbacca defense…

  26. rhodeislandpatriotsfan says: Jul 2, 2012 1:38 AM

    The alleged untimely submission of evidence (the 16 or so exhibits) by the league need not be fatal to its case against the suspended players. Article 46, Section 3 (Time Limits) of the 2011 NFL CBA clearly states, “Each of the time limits set forth in this Article may be EXTENDED (emphasis added) by mutual agreement of the parties OR BY THE HEARING OFFICER UPON APPROPRIATE MOTION (emphasis added).” The three calendar day requirement for discovery arguably constitutes one of the “time limits” referenced in Section 3. So, any non-compliance can be cured in the prescribed manner.

  27. bigball1 says: Jul 2, 2012 1:45 AM

    Once again Vilma is doing everything he can to get this out in the open to let the FACTS be seen and judged. Why is it that at every opportunity the NFL and Goodell has tried to not disclose, and to block the view of the facts. Even when they had to give the evidence at the appeal hearing, they give it at the very last possible moment. What game are they playing?
    Even to state that they have 50,000 pages of evidence. Which has the implication that there is 50,000 pages of true evidence. Please! Even when they disclosed their 200 pages at the appeal, there were only about 5 pages that had any relevance at all. What is the game?
    And who among you really do not believe that Greg Williams, who created this entire mess with the pay-for-performance program, would not speak up and defend his players if he was not beholding to Goodell and the NFL to ever have a chance at a reinstatement into the coaching ranks.

  28. yssupasigninnamnotyep says: Jul 2, 2012 1:50 AM

    All of this Aints and Vilma crap is really getting old and souring the game of football. I just wish this idiot would go away already.

  29. silentcount says: Jul 2, 2012 1:53 AM

    So what specifically was Vilma and the coaches guilty of? If Goodell had never fabricated public outrage with his original accusations of a three year bounty system paying to injure players, would the evidence you see now lead you to conclude that? This whole thing has been blown up to a strange level that defies logic. If a player on your team joked about pay for a hard legal hit, would you say he deserved to be suspended for a year? Goodell is showing that he should no longer be trusted to handle fair judgements and punishments. If not for Vilma fearlessly taking on the dictator, the truth may have never come out. He has the respect of every defensive player on every team for standing up to Goodell.

  30. rajbais says: Jul 2, 2012 1:56 AM

    That’s why “Mr. Improper” (also known as the commissioner of the NFL) should not call the lawsuit “improper”!!!

    Compared to Vilma’s suit his display of cause for player suspension has been sloppy!!!

  31. rexryansfork says: Jul 2, 2012 1:57 AM

    Cue the “take your punishment like a man” people

  32. flaccotoboldin says: Jul 2, 2012 2:00 AM

    This isn’t this complicated.

    1) The NFL disciplinary case regarding bounties is, GASP, not a court case

    2) The process is a process between and employer and an employee. It IS an inappropriate lawsuit because this was collectively bargained on. Just a year ago.

    3) this story is being milked by the media, but particularly by Florio, because he’s a lawyer and he loves this kind of crap.

    Usually I appreciate his legal takes, but on this one, he continues to hammer this home like it’s a normal legal proceeding, which its not.

    4) If Vilma was not guilty, the evidence against him wouldn’t have mattered. He’s have met Goodell and said whats up, even if its nothing.

    Since he didn’t, I gather that the Union and his lawyers didn’t trust him not to say something stupid or incriminating because, GASP, he certainly isn’t black and white “innocent” or uninvolved in this

  33. CKL says: Jul 2, 2012 2:05 AM

    Anyone else wonder if he’d be suing if he’d been suspended for 4 games or so?

  34. rabidmike says: Jul 2, 2012 2:20 AM

    Yep, the league made it all up and the Saints were randomly drawn from a hat to be screwed with…but don’t worry, Jon Vilma will save us all.

  35. purplegreenandgold says: Jul 2, 2012 3:08 AM

    “Vilma offered to provide the NFL with complete ‘detail[] [of] Vilma’s knowledge regarding [the Bounty Program] allegations.” The league declined to do so, so Vilma declined to meet with Goodell.
    ===================================
    well…well…well

  36. korikill says: Jul 2, 2012 3:12 AM

    He said, he said. Waah wah wah. I mean, why did the union even bother to ratify the CBA. It’s obviously not following agreed upon procedure, so if I was the owners, I would just counter sue for breach. Lock the players out. But that’s just the businessman in me. If someone signs a contract and then they don’t follow it, that is grounds for a (counter) suit.
    Ps, why on earth would you skip a hearing with your fate at stake?!

  37. paychrisjohnson28 says: Jul 2, 2012 3:24 AM

    I hope all the Accused & suspended pay for bounty players I hope and pray they get their suspensions reduced or overturned completely if there is no real factual evidence of them doing this. The punishment seems a bit harsh when you consider that you talk to old retired players from all different teams from many years ago who have claimed this type of thing has gone on for years focusing on stopping the other teams best players, it may not to be to the degree they are talking about. In the court of law all you have to do is prove reasonable doubt and from the evidence the NFL has presented about the bounties so far, I believe the cases against most all players and some of the coaches would be dismissed and some may still have harsh sentences, but as an NFL fan, I would sure like to see a sort of NFL type justice system where if no evidence, find the innocent not guilty and clear their name, like Anthony Hargrove or others like possibly Scott Fujita. Believe me, we can handle the truth.

  38. denverscott says: Jul 2, 2012 3:26 AM

    I want more monet! How ca I feed me, may babies moomas, and my newborns on 7 mill a year? WAHHHHHH suck it jerk tools…..WA HHHHH

  39. denverscott says: Jul 2, 2012 3:28 AM

    Did I say WAAAAHHHHHHH. Shaved jungle cats? Puss#@$s

  40. greggfletch1 says: Jul 2, 2012 3:39 AM

    When this Nation become a socialist state. THE PLAYERS ACCEPTED THE CBA. Which by the way unions have way to much power in this country. Stop being a pizzy and take you meds, you elected him, you gave him the power, shut your whiny arse million dollar paying pssy mouth and deal with it.

  41. roadbiscuit says: Jul 2, 2012 3:52 AM

    This doesn’t outline quite all but this is a good start. Seeing all with a little more detail would be helpful.

  42. northeastkiller says: Jul 2, 2012 3:53 AM

    It’s nice to know truthfactory thinks it’s reasonable to walk blind into a hearing with no idea of what “evidence” is against you, but non-crazy people might say being able to plan a defense isn’t proof of guilt.

  43. julyeast says: Jul 2, 2012 4:28 AM

    do not understand how any Saints player or coach can be suspended for getting incentive TO HIT A PLAYER HARD, when NOT ONE Patriot player or coach got suspended for cheating.

  44. mwindle1973 says: Jul 2, 2012 5:00 AM

    This is a pretty weak suit. It’s clearly an attempt to just get an injunction on the suspension and then stall so Vilma can play the season or part of it. It won’t work. The NFL will file for summary judgement, and I think there is a great chance the case will be summarily dismissed. There is very little substance to any of these allegations. They don’t prove anything in particular. They just try to present criminal court level reasonable doubt into the NFLs investigation, conclusions and subsequent suspension. That won’t work in a civil court. The honus is on Ginsberg to reasonably demonstrate that Vilma wasn’t involved and also explain an “alternative reality” to the NFL’s version of events. Such as the notes showing Vilma paid 10k for a Favre bounty. They must explain what exactly that notation is if it isn’t proof of his involvement. And that will be just one of many things they will need to show. This is a desperate case!

  45. pcoisma says: Jul 2, 2012 6:20 AM

    Demaurice Smith is the one that the players should be suing for Miss-Representation. He is the man the wanted this and recommended this new CBA to the players. He is also a Lawyer! He knew what was possibly going to happen.

    The only players seem to be the Steelers who did not follow this Pied Piper of Hamlin. Unfortunately for them they also got sucked into it now.

    This from a Rams fan that has to watch Jeff fisher try to avoid all question about his buddy Williams.

  46. rbell2123 says: Jul 2, 2012 6:38 AM

    Can’t wait for training camp. so tired of reading about the Saints. Like a bad dream i wish Saints would just go away

  47. eagleswin says: Jul 2, 2012 6:51 AM

    Nuisance suit.

    I wonder if Peter Ginsberg will try to oust the judge from the case when this goes against him (like he did in FLA). That is why he got fined nearly $400k and and suspended for 5 years.

    In affirming Briskman’s decision, the appeals panel found that Ginsberg’s conduct was “egregious” and included overzealous litigation tactics and factual inaccuracies. The panel also found that he demonstrated disrespectful behavior and bad faith.

    That doesn’t sound like the Ginsberg that’s representing Vilma does it? Maybe it does.

  48. whodatsaybaby says: Jul 2, 2012 7:17 AM

    And you thought Roger Goddell got ”BOO’ED” pretty bad at this years draft. Wait untill next year. Plus it’s good to know I’ve been waiting for Roger to fall out his KINGS chair all this time, and that time seems to be getting closer.

  49. gingerkid2000 says: Jul 2, 2012 7:22 AM

    Vilma will have to prove these allegations are true. He will also have to be reminded that some of these allegations contradict with things like the players & NFLPA Twitter & Facebook feeds. Goodell may be jerk but he’s no cretin. Everyone expected this to go to court so Vilma had better have strong evidence to back up his claims. I’m guessing Goodell, who is an attorney is more than prepared to go head to head with any one of these guys.

  50. bigpara says: Jul 2, 2012 8:01 AM

    julyeast says:
    Jul 2, 2012 4:28 AM
    do not understand how any Saints player or coach can be suspended for getting incentive TO HIT A PLAYER HARD, when NOT ONE Patriot player or coach got suspended for cheating.
    ______________________________________
    Cheating doesn’t put anyone in the hospital. Bounties to hurt someone could end careers.

  51. hpeters77 says: Jul 2, 2012 8:11 AM

    Beaux villa forget all these hater comments and do your thing the people on here still watch independence day and think aliens are real. You know more than they do and they won’t believe it even if they heard the truth

  52. bigpara says: Jul 2, 2012 8:15 AM

    NFL have no need to show the evidence, the evidence is already in that Viking-Saints playoff game, they were giving cheap shots to Brett all game. They have Williams on tape and that all the proof they need. If Vilma is found guilty, I hope criminal charges are pressed against him.

  53. GG Eden says: Jul 2, 2012 8:48 AM

    The point people are missing is that there was no bounty going on. It was all made up by the disgruntled whistleblower. Thus, Goodell went in blindly and stupidly believing it all. What’s just as bad is that the whistleblower who made it all up, ended up admitting to Goodell it was all made up, recanting his claims, but Goodell was too deeply entrenched in it by then to back out. He got suckered into it, so to speak, bought it hook line and sinker, and now refuses to admit he erred etc.

  54. mjkelly77 says: Jul 2, 2012 9:24 AM

    Vilma complaint outlines all aleged flaws in bounty case
    _________________

    I thought Vilma and the NFLPA asserts that there are “alleged” flaws?

  55. rajbais says: Jul 2, 2012 9:31 AM

    Ben Roethlisberger had a 6-game suspension reduced to 4 when we don’t know what it was that Goodell defined as good “service for the community”!!!

    For that to happen before suspending players in the manner he’s doing it in us unfair to the Saints.

    Ben is a QB and played for a team that was meant and needs to look good in prime time. I’m surprised there’s no speculation on this.

  56. jrmbadger says: Jul 2, 2012 9:37 AM

    “truthfactory says:
    Jul 1, 2012 11:39 PM
    At the end of the day, Vilma had his chance to defend himself as was agreed in the CBA and he turned it down.”

    =======================
    I think that’s partly his problem. Assuming the allegations in the complaint are true, Vilma didn’t have a fair shot to defend himself. Vilma’s claims are that he couldn’t defend himself because the NFL deliberately concealed evidence by refusing to make it available, by mischaracterizing the evidence they had available, by telling witnesses to keep quiet, and by dumping it on the players at the last minute. Finally, he’s also claiming that Goodell couldn’t be neutral given insistence on trying this case in the media.

    If Vilma’s accusations are true, its a huge black eye for the league. So bad, that you’d think Goodell’s job would be in jeopardy.

    I admit that I was one of the individuals who initially thought that the Saints were guilty and should just shut up and take their punishments. However, after hearing about the NFL’s “evidence” – I have serious doubts.

  57. qdog112 says: Jul 2, 2012 9:45 AM

    Mr. Goodell has been ill-served by his legal team. The slipshod nature of this whole fiasco ,can be placed at the feet of lead clown and chief legal counselor, Jeff Pash.

    If you recall, he’s the same guy who filed up the CBA negotiations and was asked to leave the room. No progress happened until he did.

  58. northlawhodat says: Jul 2, 2012 9:51 AM

    The commish will fall. All the haters can hate all they want. Jonathon Vilma will win this one. And when he gets the suspension lifted and the opponent across the line of scrimage see’s #51 staring them down…………… Oh yeah baby! Can’t wait!

  59. rhodeislandpatriotsfan says: Jul 2, 2012 9:55 AM

    How is the “failure” by the appeal hearing officer, Roger Goodell, to rule “by Monday June 25, 2012” actionable? The 2011 NFL CBA, Article 46, Section 2(d), which is controlling here, simply states that the hearing officer is required to provide a written decision, “As soon as PRACTICABLE (emphasis added) following the conclusion of the hearing… .” Since there is no specific/explicit time frame contemplated, how can one argue that “Monday June 25, 2012” is the deadline for issuing the ruling?

  60. paychrisjohnson28 says: Jul 2, 2012 9:55 AM

    To the guy who said does a referee have to hear an appeal after he throws a flag? Thats apples and oranges two different things when you compare that to btw bounty allegations, because we are talking about not only taking millions or thousands of dollars from careers of coaches and athletes due to suspensions…you are talking about ruining reputations of players which could ruin Vilma’s and other players careers…because look at T.O., McNabb or Culpepper who didn’t do anything like this and their reputations are so bad they can’t even get a try out with an NFL team to come back after productive careers, what do you think teams will want to sign Vilma or employ Greg Williams as a coach after this ? No way, their reputations are going to be tainted and this will follow each player and coach that got suspended. That is why if I was in their position I would fight it! Do you think Vilma, Fujita and Hargrove act innocent? I believe the amount of punishment is I justified, it will be lessened or Goodell will go down for all this in time…commissioner Taglibeau or Rozelle would not do what Goodell would in this case would they ?!

  61. paychrisjohnson28 says: Jul 2, 2012 10:09 AM

    Goodell = Control Freak. If a team wants to make any changes or move or anything like that he states in each memo that he has the final say and they must consult him and he must give his approval and he suspends players that have not been arrested but due to what he perceives is conduct detrimental to the NFL the league. When the NFL has members of their Hall of Fame who were known for the head slap (Deacon Jones) and for taking players heads off with clothes line tackles ripping their heads off and now Goodell is possibly ruining players careers for “bounties” that no player who had a supposed bounty on them even will admit the care about because “they are tough football players!” they say. Yes it was a different era, but teams for years had unspoken bounties, an example of this is Buddy Ryan was accused of bounties when he was coach of the Eagles and nothing was done to him or any player! Come on man!

  62. paychrisjohnson28 says: Jul 2, 2012 10:18 AM

    The bounty suspensions are in correlation of the concussion lawsuits that the NFL is trying to do all they can to protect players the NFL is trying to prove this by making a statement by the bounty suspensions. Doesnt that make sense ?

  63. seb18712188 says: Jul 2, 2012 11:10 AM

    If Vilma is successful in getting this case into a court of law. As it appears he wants to do and having a judge look at it. Doesn’t this also open up this case to being investigated by the federal government and possibly more charges being filed against the saints such as conspiracy to commit bodily harm?

    Which if proven could put Vilma in company in a lot more hot water then just missing an NFL season?

    Could this end up putting guys in Jail?

  64. renhoekk2 says: Jul 2, 2012 11:21 AM

    I’m sure when the NFLPA agreed to let Goodell keep his all encompassing power it didn’t imagine this type of scenario. Most “player discipline” situations are for plays on the field or criminal activity where there is a police report filed. It’s hard to argue against an illegal hit when there is video evidence showing you doing it from about five different camera angles. But when accusations are being levied for something like a bounty being offered and there is little actual evidence being offered to back it up, and what little there is offered is very weak at best, then they have every right to pursue any avenue they wish to get a fair hearing. Vilma knew his meeting with Goodell would be a one sided hoax of an appeal process so why bother.

    Goodell: Here is the evidence we gathered. What do you have to say?

    Vilma:None of that is true.

    Goodell:Sorry. Suspension upheld. Thanks for coming.

    I know it is not a court of law but there is a reason why the defense team in a court case gets to see ALL of the evidence the prosecution has gathered and also why they get to cross examine any witnesses giving testimony. If the Commissioner is so sure they have a solid case against Vilma and the Saints let’s see all of the evidence and let’s hear from the witnesses. I know under the rules of the CBA they don’t have to do any of that, but if they have nothing to hide or fear they should be more than willing to do it.

  65. silentcount says: Jul 3, 2012 12:06 AM

    Here’s a plan to solve all this mess. Have referees on the field watching the players’ every move. If they make an illegal hit, then throw a flag and give their team a penalty in yardage. Oh wait, they’ve already had that system and it works fine. So why is Goodell throwing flags now for something from 3 years ago that he can’t prove really happened? Doesn’t he realize that Vilma has only had a total of 3 penalties in THREE YEARS! Yeah, like he’s really trying to intentionally injure people with a clean record like that. Case closed!

  66. bobzilla1001 says: Jul 4, 2012 5:15 PM

    Evidently, the Steelers were the only team in the league that actually read the CBA before its ratification. The Steelers voted against it. No other team did. They opposed Goodell’s complete control and arrogant power. No other team gave that any thought.
    While Goodell goes about destroying the league, the players and owners only have themsleves to blame. They are allowing this to happen.
    Goodell must go!!!!

  67. savannahrose44 says: Jul 4, 2012 5:26 PM

    A lot of speculation in this lawsuit on the part of Vilma.

  68. blogspotsblog says: Jul 5, 2012 9:34 PM

    @flaccotoboldin
    Of course he is not completley innocint. He was still a part of a pay for performance system that was against league rules, but did not rise to the level that the commish is saying that it did. And also, the evidince against him DOES matter. If he did not do anything, then there would be no proof of him doing it, AND THERE IS NO PROOF AGAINST HIM. And he did ask to meet with goodell to discuss the evidence and goodell is the one who declined and there is proof of that. Vilma said that he would meet with him and speak with him if they would be discussing the evidence because he had already told “his side of the story” so at this point he wanted goodell to supply the evince so that the league, vilma and ginsbergh could discuss it and show that vilma was clean in this situation. the league declined to previde the evidnece so vilma declined to meet. What else could vilma have said besides “I didnt do it”. He and his lawyer have constantly said that vilma did not do what they said he did and the whole team is saying that there was no bounty on brett favre or anyone else. And the note that you mentioned, allow me to share some things with you. The note contained something called a minny game. In it, it said Vilma 10000-Qb. Joe Vitts name said Vitt 5000-QB out. So why is it that vitts name says qb out and vilmas only says qb. Also Charles Grants name said Grant 10000-QB. But his name was not brought up and the league itself said that they did not use this against joe vitt. And the people who the league said coraborated that vilma did have said that they did no did no such thing. Williams and Orenstien said that they never coraborated this accusation. And vitt just came out and said that it straight up did not happen and he and other players have said this since day one. So that means that the note that everyone is talking about was proven to be inaccurate and it is only logical to conclude that it was created long after the 2009 title game. After all why was vilma accused of putting up money for this and not the other guys? So in other words, Goodell publicly accused vilma based off of hearsay. And the other guys were not even notified that they had even been accused. So it is possible that he may have offered it as a joke and whoever snitched mentioned it knowing completley that it would damage vilma. When vilma said that he never intended to pay but did not deny that he offered. Logicaly it is possible that it might have been a joke just to get the guys hyped up. Also it has been said that the money was not even Vilmas but it was williams’s money and that vilma gave it right back to him. Williams suspension says that he is not to talk to the media or other players about the investigation and the league denied the players request to have him present at the appeals. The league then lies and says that they were allowed. But they did not tell them this information until after the fact. So the league basically withheld information about being able to contact witnesses. But then again what else could the witnesses say besides ” He didnt do it” or “they didnt do it”. That is what they have been saying since DAY ONE. And it has not changed anything so what good would it have done in reality. Even Vitt said that the league misrepresented what he and the other coaches said in the interviews that they had with the league. It has also been revealed that the league did not provide any notes from the interviews with any of the coaches. Not to mention that the NFLPA was not allowed to be in the interviews, and neither were the players. And the coaches have ALL said that the league misrepresented the information that they gave them and in other words put words in their mouth. the fact that the coaches and the league were the only ones in the interviews and there were no sound bites or tapes from those interviews, or notes from the interviews provided as evidence shows that the league spun the information and twisted and distored the things that were said in the dierection that the NFL wanted it to go. In other words it adds to the accusation that the league shaped the info into what THEY wanted it to look and sound like and have not provided proof of conformation or orginal documents or witnesses. the burden of proof is on the accuser, not the accused. and to date, the league has not shown any proof guilt on ANY of the players adn the only thing on williams is an audio in which playeres said that it was just “Greggs language” and other than the comment about crabtrees acl (which no one went for) there was nothing wrong with it. Only those who never played football dont understand what he said. Also at the end of the FULL audio. His says “dont hurt the team and dont go over the line”. And with greggs apology and statments, THEY WERE WRITTEN FOR HIM BY THE NFL AND THEY THREW HIS ORIGINAL STATMENTS AND INTERVIEWS OUT. So in conclussion, it is the nfl who is acting improper. they have no proof of guilt but are requiring players to provide proof of innocence, which is impossible. If there is nothing to show guilt, then that is evidence of innocence right there. And like i said, what else can they say besides “I didnt do it”. It would go like this. Goodell: This says that you did this. Vilma: that information is false. Goodell: So did you do it. Vilma: no, that is why there is nothing to prove that I am guilty, because i am not guilty. Goodell: well give me something to prove you innocence. Vilma: How about the fact that there is nothing other than hearsay to say I am guilty and the fact that the note was created AFTER the nfccg. Goodell: Well I uphold the suspension because i dont want to admit I am wrong. Vilma: but i didnt do it. Goodell: well I said you did so there. Goodell’s ego is to big to admit he was wrong. He invited the players in hopes that accept a lesser penalty so that he would still come out as the good guy. But no matter how much they say or who says they are innocent, roger is too ignorant and egotistical to realize that he screwed up big time. If he had done this to a New york team, it would not have been like this because the new york media would not let goodell get away with convicting with BS evidence that showed no proof of guilt. they would eat him alive. And befor you say the players agreed to this. They agreed to let him have jurisdiction over OFF FIELD issues where there was CLEAR proof of guilt (i.e. Vick, Pacman, Roethlesberger, suh, donte stallworth, nick fiarly etc.). they trusted him to not act like an egotistical, vindictive, power-hungry dictator which he cleary is acting like. they did not think that he would ABUSE his authority. so get that right. But unfortunatly only the steelers saw this coming. but to put it in perspective, it is legal in some countries to beat women, but do you think that they should just beat up every girl that they see? Just because you have the power to be unfair, does not mean that it is right, just look at adolf hitler. GOODELL MUST GO. He is too egotistical,vindictive, greedy and selfish to be impartial.

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