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Report: League offers to cut Vilma’s suspension in half

Jonathan Vilma AP

There’s nothing like a looming court date to make parties serious about working out their differences on their own.

With Judge Helen G. Berrigan posing questions during a July 26 hearing that suggested she may be leaning toward lifting linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s suspension — and possibly overturning all of the suspensions later — the league reportedly has offered a middle ground.  According to Ed Werder, Adam Schefter, and Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (what, did they take turn typing the letters?), the NFL has offered to reduce Vilma’s suspension to eight games.

Though Steve Wyche of NFL Network said on NFLAM said that no specific offer has been made, the report comes at a time when it makes sense to be talking about possible alternatives to a court-ordered outcome.

The report also comes in the wake of a report by Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports that, if the NFLPA had cooperated with the league’s process, Vilma may have ultimately been suspended only four games.  Setting aside for now the serious disconnect between legal gamesmanship and the notion of doing the right thing, the leak to Cole may have laid the foundation for the news of what could be characterized as backpedaling by the league office.

Indeed, that’s the obvious initial reaction to the report from Werdscheftenson.  The league by all appearances has blinked.  Coupled with Cole’s report, the spin could be that the NFL is simply trying to finish this thing where it would have ended if Vilma hadn’t refused to participate in the process.

When Commissioner Roger Goodell hammered Vilma et al., we suggested at some point the possibility that Goodell deliberately overshot with the penalties so that he could prove the appeal process works — even if it makes him look wishy-washy for second-guessing his initial decision.  Vilma prevented that from happening by refusing to throw himself on the mercy of what the players regard as a kangaroo court.

Of course, no offer to reduce the penalties may matter.  Vilma and the other players continue to believe that they did nothing wrong.  More specifically, they believe there were no bounties.  They concede there was a pay-for-performance system, and the league still hasn’t made it clear that the penalties flow primarily from offering cash for applying clean, legal hits in a way that prevents an opponent from continuing.  (For example, the Sunday night hit by defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis on Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb would have been regarded as a “knockout” in a regular-season game, even though Ellis broke no rules in dragging Kolb down.)

Once the two sides start speaking the same language, maybe they can find a middle ground.  For now, our guess is that Vilma and the players will regard the offer as a sign of weakness, and that they’ll keep pushing for a court order scuttling all of the suspensions — or at a minimum requiring the parties to appoint a neutral arbitrator.

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19 Responses to “Report: League offers to cut Vilma’s suspension in half”
  1. cakemixa says: Aug 6, 2012 7:41 AM

    If the NFL had a rock solid case, why would they be trying to settle? I thought they had undisputed evidence of a bounty system?! Who “blinks” when they know they aren’t in the wrong?

  2. nolahxc says: Aug 6, 2012 7:46 AM

    “Werdscheftenson”

    Thanks for the new fantasy football team name!

  3. nflofficeadmin says: Aug 6, 2012 7:47 AM

    Vilma feeling swagged out today. #swag

  4. purplegreenandgold says: Aug 6, 2012 7:49 AM

    the commish thought that the players were going to say “you caught us”. hand out suspensions …. during appeals process look good and reduce penalties. case closed and slap high fives.
    the last thing they wanted was a challenge…ohh…what to do…lets reduce the suspensions on the condition Vilma throws out his lawsuit. no wonder RG left after the HOF ceremony.

    sorry commish but Vilma has become your waterloo

  5. chachanola says: Aug 6, 2012 7:50 AM

    wow. after all the jokes and horrible PR at every turn it sure got damn quiet….. For all that said Ohhh He handed down suspensions that he had to….Where you at? he couldn’t have went overboard. Looks like somebody is tapping out.

  6. grogansheroes says: Aug 6, 2012 7:53 AM

    So does this mean GODell is wrong? (God Forbid) Or are they afraid of the impending lawsuit with no merit?

  7. rajbais says: Aug 6, 2012 7:53 AM

    Take that deal!!!

    It’s the closest thing to get what’s fair!!!

    Also Commish, cut or erase Hargrove’s suspension too!!! He’s getting the rawest deal out of everyone penalized!!!

  8. jets13 says: Aug 6, 2012 7:54 AM

    Well i was on the leagues side all the way

    until now.

    Can the NFL look any weaker?

  9. musicman495 says: Aug 6, 2012 7:59 AM

    Hey Roger, you know you did it. You know you have been lying about it. Now take your punishment like a man.

  10. qdog112 says: Aug 6, 2012 8:00 AM

    Channeling Carl Lewis,… uh oh!!! Just like during the lockout, the owners didn’t want anyone to view their books, Goodell doesn’t want daylight to hit his evidence vault. Chances are, he knows it will not pass the smell-test for fairness. His Draconian approach to discipline will be under “further review” and will not pass muster. There is noway he wants people to see the flimsy evidence on which he based his life altering decisions.

    Never mind the man behind the curtain. I for one, hope Vilma has his day in court. Let’s see what Goodell has.

  11. sb44champs says: Aug 6, 2012 8:19 AM

    Oh my, how the tables have turned!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. paychrisjohnson28 says: Aug 6, 2012 8:20 AM

    All the suspensions except Greg Williams suspension are bogus. I hope all suspensions get rescinded except Williams, because if you go to YouTube and listen to his kicker room speech to his defense, that is the only true evidence of guilt proven at this point.

  13. billsfan1 says: Aug 6, 2012 8:33 AM

    if the NFLPA had cooperated with the league’s process, Vilma may have ultimately been suspended only four games…

    Leads me to believe that this wasnt about VIlma.. it was about D. Smith- a power struggle between him and Goodell.

    I know Goodell takes alot of hammering , but if this is true, im with Goodell on this. Maybe now Smith with start catching some rightfully deserved flack..

    He challenged Goodell and Goodell stood his ground. IMO there was never gonna be a year long suspension but due to Smith not cooperaating ( shocking news there), Goodell came down hard…

    This would never had happened with Upshaw. He and Goodell (or tagliabue) had a common ground that Smith just doesnt get

  14. jealst says: Aug 6, 2012 8:42 AM

    And while they’re at it the NFL needs to do away with Fujita’s suspension. He was gone gone before the investigation began. They need to do away with Hargrove’s suspension. He was the only one that “participated” in the process and submitted a declaration (which was later mischaracterize by the NFL) and the “Give me my money” quote was proven to not be him. And do away with Will Smith’s suspension… because why is he suspended? His name must have been picked out of a hat.

  15. gumerk says: Aug 6, 2012 8:53 AM

    “His Draconian approach to discipline ”

    Could not have said it better myself.

  16. cowboyscanada says: Aug 6, 2012 8:56 AM

    If Vilma knows that there is any truth to the “bounty program”, take the deal! If he’s innocent, fight the NFL all the way in court and then countersue for millions.

  17. bigjdve says: Aug 6, 2012 10:32 AM

    I know that Goodell has always reduced suspensions on appeal. However doing without appeal, that makes you look like you will lose in a court.

    How can you expect to ever be able to apply discipline again if you give up now.

    One way or the other, this is a bad precedent to set.

  18. ytsejamer1 says: Aug 6, 2012 10:39 AM

    Hey NFL…it’s one way or the other. If you don’t have the evidence to prove that he ran the bounty program, then you can’t suspend him any games. If you DO have the evidence, then the full season suspension is valid and shouldn’t be reduced.

    From Vilma’s perspective…if he knows there’s really nothing to it, then he should definitely stand his ground. The NFL is on a very slippery slope here.

  19. jigga757 says: Aug 6, 2012 6:21 PM

    alot of people laughed when i said Vilma will win and get reinstated…look like im about to be right…so what happens wit Coach S.P. and the rest of the players?

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