To no surprise, the NFL and Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma won’t be resolving their differences before returning to court on Friday.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that there will be no deal.
The dueling reports as to whether the league offered to reduce Vilma’s suspension from 16 games to eight, which prompted the NFL to issue a statement denying that an offer was made and Vilma’s lawyer to file a document in court blasting the NFL for leaking the alleged offer, likely have created an environment in which it would be hard for the parties to agree on what time it is.
Friday’s hearing primarily will focus on two pending issues: (1) Vilma’s request that his suspension be lifted while the litigation is pending; and (2) the NFL’s effort to secure a dismissal of the lawsuit filed on behalf of the three players whose suspensions will begin after the final preseason game (Saints defensive end Will Smith, Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove, and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita).
At a minimum, Judge Helen G. Berrigan is expected to rule on whether Vilma will be able to return to practice and preseason games while she ponders a final decision. There’s a chance that she’ll drop the gavel and rule on the question of whether all suspensions must be served.
Regardless of the outcome, this thing is heading to a federal appeals court. Which means that it will be hanging around, perhaps for as long as it already has been. If not longer.