The Saints head to camp on July 24. Two days later, linebacker Jonathan Vilma will head to court in an effort to join his teammates in camp.
With a one-year suspension that began the moment Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld his decision to suspend Vilma for a full year, Vilma can’t show up unless and until he obtains a court order delaying the suspension until the legal challenge to the penalty is resolved.
According to the Associated Press, Vilma won’t get a hearing until July 26.
The other three players who have been suspended may participate in training camp and the preseason. Thus, they don’t need a ruling on the effort to postpone the suspensions until the conclusion of the preseason schedule.
It’s somewhat surprising that the wheels of justice have moved so slowly. Part of the delay comes from the fact that, as we understand it, Judge Helen G. Berrigan was out of the country for most of last week.
At the hearing on July 26, Vilma will argue that he’ll suffer “irreparable harm” if his suspension is permitted to proceed and if he later wins a reversal of his suspension in court. Vikings defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams prevailed on that point in the StarCaps case, even though they ultimately lost on the merits of their lawsuit attacking four-game suspensions for violation of the league’s steroids policy.
And so, like the Williamses, Vilma could obtain a postponement of his suspension, even if in the end the court system upholds Goodell’s decision.