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Judge in bounty case scrutinizes key factual claim made by NFL

Roger Goodell AP

Judge Helen G. Berrigan issued an order today in the bounty cases.  Though it contained no ruling, it hinted at a decision she may be thinking about making, specifically as to Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s defamation claim against Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Judge Berrigan has ordered the parties to identify by Friday at noon the date on which the NFLPA allegedly asked the NFL to defer disciplining players on March 21, the same day he disciplined the coaches and other non-players in the bounty case.

“The Court is aware that Goodell stated, during the March 21, 2012 interview with the NFL Network and ESPN, that he would have disciplined the players at the same time as the coaches but for the NFLPA’s indication that they ‘wanted some time to investigate [the allegations] and talk to its own players,’” Judge Berrigan writes in the order, a copy of which was obtained by PFT.  “The Court is asking for the specific date on which this request occurred.  If the date is already in the record, the parties may simply cite to the relevant document in the record; if it is not, then the parties shall submit the relevant evidence.”

Judge Berrigan apparently is trying to confirm — or debunk — the NFL’s claim that the decision to suspend the players already had been made at the time the league imposed discipline on the non-players.  If the NFL hadn’t made the decision to suspend the players on or before March 21, then the statements made on March 21 by Goodell regarding Vilma could be viewed as unnecessary to the disciplinary process and thus not within the confines of Goodell’s job duties and, most importantly, completely beyond the scope of the labor agreement’s arbitration procedures.

In English, if Goodell actually hadn’t made the decision as to the players on March 21, Vilma’s defamation lawsuit can proceed in court.

At the August 10 hearing before Judge Berrigan, NFL outside counsel Gregg Levy reiterated the position that the decision was made as of March 21, but that the league waited at the union’s request.  “[T]he Commissioner was prepared to issue his suspension decision with regard to the players at the same time that he disciplined the franchise and the coaches. But he held off doing that. He held off doing that because he was asked to do that by the Union, which represented to him that it was conducting its own investigation and no investigation ensued,” Levy said.

Judge Berrigan seems to be calling B.S., in not-so-subtle fashion.  And it’ll be interesting to see what the parties submit on Friday in response to her order.

If, in the end, the NFL can’t substantiate the contention that the NFLPA asked for the discipline to be delayed beyond March 21, the impact could extend beyond Vilma’s defamation claim.  Judge Berrigan will have caught the league with its fingers in the cookie jar of fabrication, which will influence to some extent the manner in which she views any other factual claims made by the league.

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99 Responses to “Judge in bounty case scrutinizes key factual claim made by NFL”
  1. snap0179 says: Aug 15, 2012 10:44 PM

    What has happened to football?

  2. paulsmith107 says: Aug 15, 2012 10:46 PM

    Don’t like the saints but I like GODdel and the nfl office even less. I hope Vila wins and gets back to playing football.

  3. cali49er707 says: Aug 15, 2012 10:49 PM

    I just want to know how many of these old WWF Superstars that have been recently showing up will take a stand on this story??

    If so can somebody please call Hacksaw Jim Duggan & The Bushwackers & ask them their opinions!!

  4. iamthorny says: Aug 15, 2012 10:49 PM

    Drew Brees LIKES this explanation.

  5. sdisme says: Aug 15, 2012 10:49 PM

    From a March 16 Jim Trotter article in SI:

    In a letter sent to the NFL Players Association on Wednesday, the NFL said it would neither facilitate the union’s investigation into the bounty scandal involving the New Orleans Saints, nor delay discipline against players, coaches and management allegedly involved in the pay-for-performance program that took place the past three seasons.

  6. franky5fingers says: Aug 15, 2012 10:49 PM

    I think Scooby says it best….. “Rut Roh!?!?!”

  7. truthfactory says: Aug 15, 2012 10:51 PM

    I’ve never heard the NFLPA dispute the claim that they asked to delay the suspensions, so why is the judge now subtly accusing this was a lie?

    Seems to me she’s digging for a way to give the players an “out” by asking them to dispute something that they weren’t really planning on disputing so that she can create a loophole for them. Shady business…

  8. FinFan68 says: Aug 15, 2012 10:52 PM

    Just curious. If D. Smith, called Goodell and asked that he wait (but never provided a formal written request) would a memo documenting the phone call be sufficient?

    If that is what happened and the NFLPA realizes that acknowledging it kills the case then there is no doubt it will be denied by Smith. If it didn’t happen at all then there is a good possibility there will be an internal memo fabricated and thus disputed by the NFLPA.

    In essence, the only way I see the NFL winning this little battle is if there was a formal written request from the NFLPA (or even from an individual player/counsel) or a recording of the telephone conversation.

  9. msclemons67 says: Aug 15, 2012 10:52 PM

    Translation: rather than applying the law this judge is looking for any excuse to support her own biased, predetermined judgment.

    As a lawyer, can you tell us if judges do this often? If so my faith in the American judicial system will be even lower.

  10. moagecu says: Aug 15, 2012 10:57 PM

    The judge can scrutinize all she wants,sucks the law is on the NFLs side

  11. jason1980 says: Aug 15, 2012 11:02 PM

    Looky here, seems like Goodell’s gonna have to present some real bonafided evidence in a court of law. This is gettin’ good, get your popcorn boys and girls.

  12. meandjuliojonesdownbytheschoolyard says: Aug 15, 2012 11:02 PM

    This judge is horrible. Why is she hell bent on finding for Vilma?

  13. namelessfacelessfan says: Aug 15, 2012 11:02 PM

    The NFL needs to settle this. Cut all suspensions in half. Players end all legal proceedings. Call it over and done with and move on.

    Those of us who know how truly engrained pay-for-performance programs are in the NFL know that the league would rather at least partially keep the illusion that the Saints were an abberation instead of it being uncovered in court that P4p programs are/were widespread and very common.

    “Saints’ ‘pay for performance’ system commonplace in NFL”
    By Bucky Brooks NFL.com
    Analyst, NFL.com and NFL Network
    Published: March 3, 2012 at 11:25 a.m
    “The news of the New Orleans Saints operating a “bounty” program from 2009 to 2011 under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has created quite a stir since the news broke Friday, but I will let you in on a dirty little secret: The practice is commonplace throughout the league.”

  14. xakle says: Aug 15, 2012 11:03 PM

    There was a report in March from Jim Trotter that the NFL supposedly sent a letter to the NFLPA on March 16th stating that they would not wait on the NFLPA to do their own investigation before they suspend the players.

  15. FinFan68 says: Aug 15, 2012 11:03 PM

    Mr. Florio, I’m not sure if it qualifies as a legal request or not but here is what you posted in early March. The text seems to at least imply that the NFLPA made the request a couple of weeks prior to March 21.

    Excerpt from: NFLPA issues statement on Saints bounties

    Posted by Mike Florio on March 7, 2012, 5:57 PM EDT

    We will vigorously protect the rights of all players. Until the facts are known, judgment based on reports in the media is speculative. That is why the NFLPA is undertaking a comprehensive review of the circumstances surrounding these reported violations of League rules. As part of this review, the NFLPA has requested that the NFL help facilitate interviews with members of New Orleans Saints management and coaching staff that were employed by the club in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

    We recognize that this investigation was conducted over the course of many months. Accordingly, we have requested that the NFL provide us with sufficient time to complete our internal review as counsel to the players.

  16. pawpaw46 says: Aug 15, 2012 11:04 PM

    Rut-Roh, Rojah

  17. shian11 says: Aug 15, 2012 11:07 PM

    Did you just say that if they can’t prove the request for time or that they had made a decision then the deflemation lawsuit can continue because roger said “wanted some time to investigate and talk to its players” I don’t see the words “johnathon vilma” in any march 21st comments!!!!!!! So how is that defaming vilma if he never said his name and no one knew for sure who would be or how long a suspension would last

  18. jonny42671 says: Aug 15, 2012 11:08 PM

    Cue the whining Saint fans!!

  19. goodolebaghead says: Aug 15, 2012 11:09 PM

    “Judge Berrigan will have caught the league with its fingers in the cookie jar of fabrication, which will influence to some extent the manner in which she views any other factual claims made by the league.”

    Goodell has blatantly ‘leaked’ fictional evidence, had it blown out of the water, and tried again from another fictional angle. This is why it’s hard for us to actually believe any of this has been fair and arbitrary, and not just the whims of one man in power. Goodell’s punishment precedence has been terrible and speaks leagues of how poorly he understand what it’s like to play the game. It’s always seemed like he made up fines based on how he felt that day on the offense.

    We just want the truth. I think Freeh gave Benson the truth. I think it looks bad on both sides. I think it doesn’t look as bad on the NOLA side as Goodell made it look in March and thereafter. I think Goodell goofed this one, and now EVERYONE looks suspect in the process.

  20. donny1rodriguez says: Aug 15, 2012 11:09 PM

    dat font

  21. skoobyfl says: Aug 15, 2012 11:10 PM

    You mean there’s a chance a billion-dollar company chief is playing dirty pool ?? We’ve never seen this before.

  22. jwayne111 says: Aug 15, 2012 11:12 PM

    For some reason I think other media outlets will view this differently. The NFL / Goodell does not play with Cookie jars…….Facts

  23. nomad57 says: Aug 15, 2012 11:16 PM

    In the words of Carl Lewis, “Oh-oh!”

  24. goodellsadouche says: Aug 15, 2012 11:18 PM

    Roger Goodell needs an explanation!

  25. phloorioisanarcissist says: Aug 15, 2012 11:20 PM

    Real suprise a judge from the eastern district of Louisiana is saying she would rule in favor of Vilma if she could… and to no surprise she is trying to find a way to rule in his favor. The whole state of Louisiana will hate her if she doesn’t.

    Bottom line… Vilma has no case here. He never did. Even if she makes an illegitimate ruling in his favor it will quickly be overturned on appeal outside the state of Louisiana where a Judge won’t have to worry about public opinion and disgruntled Saint fans.

    The fun part will be watching Jonathan Vilma and the NFLPA spend all their money on a worthless cause only to save some face value and raise suspicion to the public.

    Thumbs down if you’re a disgruntled Saints fan…

  26. roughneck0221 says: Aug 15, 2012 11:20 PM

    Oops Rog!

    Get your resume together………

  27. sfsaintsfan says: Aug 15, 2012 11:21 PM

    This is getting VERY interesting. I know some of the yokels on this site will come up with their “home cooking” comments, but if the Judge has caught the NFL/Goodell in a HUGE LIE, then they are flat out toast.

    Goodell has been lying about this whole matter since day one. His chickens are coming home to roost.

    Down goes Goodell.

    I still say, this will not end well for Goodell. If he loses a Defamation Case against an active NFL player, he will be fired for cause by the owners and the rest of his contract will be terminated without pay. It would serve him well.

  28. trustedvoice says: Aug 15, 2012 11:21 PM

    Roger Goodell meet Judge Berrigan… your days are numbered.

  29. goodellsadouche says: Aug 15, 2012 11:22 PM

    And let’s see what the law clerks on the NFL’s side can conjure up.

  30. drgreenstreak says: Aug 15, 2012 11:24 PM

    “Judge Berrigan will have caught the league with its fingers in the cookie jar of fabrication,…”

    Oh we know that’s what you’re hopin’ for, Mike.
    Bring down the man!

    Occupy the NFL!

    pfft…

  31. clu1perceiver says: Aug 15, 2012 11:27 PM

    Here we Go!

  32. letmesetyoustraight says: Aug 15, 2012 11:33 PM

    If the commish had indeed made up his mind on the discipline for the players by March 21st, he sure did not show it over a month later in an interview with Rich Eisen:

    Q from Eisen:Something else that is first and foremost to the New Orleans Saints in many people’s minds about the punishment that you levied down based on the bounty case as well. When do you think the issue with suspending players who were involved in this is going to come to a head or a conclusion?

    A from Goodell:“I hope to reach those decisions very soon. We have been continuing our work. We have continued to talk to players and other people that can give us a perspective. Once we have got all the information and we feel that we are in a position to be able to issue the fairest and most thorough types of decisions, we will do that but I expect to do that soon because this is a big element to me. This is player on player and what we want to do is make sure that people understand that there needs to be respect for players that play the game and that needs to start with players against players. We made it clear what we expect from the coaches and executives and clubs that these types of activities should not be occurring and that they need to do their part but the players need to do their part with each other and that starts with respecting each other”

    Link:

    http://www.nola.com/saints/index.ssf/2012/04/nfl_commissioner_roger_goodell_21.html

  33. radbob1 says: Aug 15, 2012 11:35 PM

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/jim_trotter/03/15/bounty.update/index.html?sct=nfl_t2_a3

    “In a letter sent to the NFL Players Association on Wednesday, the NFL said it would neither facilitate the union’s investigation into the bounty scandal involving the New Orleans Saints, nor delay discipline against players, coaches and management allegedly involved in the pay-for-performance program that took place the past three seasons”

  34. ascensionparish says: Aug 15, 2012 11:37 PM

    NFL is lying. On 8/10/12, NFL atty Levy stated in court that Goodell was ready to issue player suspensions on 3/21/12. Yet on 4/23/12, Goodell told the NFLN (Rich Eisen) that the investigations were ongoing and that they hoped to reach their decisions regarding player discipline soon.

    Sooooooooooo, which is it, Rog?

    See you in court.

  35. wunsa says: Aug 15, 2012 11:37 PM

    I think the judge already knows the league lied, she’s just laying the groundwork for a Friday smackdown!

  36. rugdog100 says: Aug 15, 2012 11:38 PM

    Sounds like Vilma wrote this article… lol.

  37. ncarolinarn7 says: Aug 15, 2012 11:41 PM

    Judge against Goodell and fire him. I believe some else would better suited as commissioner of the NFL. Goodbye Roger. Being back a Pete Rozelle or Paul Tagliabu type.

  38. cwwgk says: Aug 15, 2012 11:41 PM

    Alternatively, if/when Levy’s proffer to the Court is verified it will serve as another example of the league attempting to involve the players and their union in the disciplinary process. Something the league wasn’t even required to do under the CBA.

    Perhaps Judge Berrigan is exploring whether the players and their union were afforded the opportunity to prepare their respective defenses. Unlike the league, the players have first hand knowledge as to what occurred and equal access to their coaches and teammates.

    If the league did agree, at the request of the NFLPA, to delay its ruling that would weigh heavily on the issue of fairness.

  39. ilovefoolsball says: Aug 15, 2012 11:44 PM

    All factual claims by the league should come into question to any logical human being.

    Goodell obsessed followers are not logical human beings.

  40. gammynomnom says: Aug 15, 2012 11:47 PM

    Man do I hope Goodell gets kicked in the nuts so hard they have to hire a heart surgeon to retrieve them.

  41. bigball1 says: Aug 15, 2012 11:51 PM

    This is just so cool…R. Goodell has someone, a real judge, judge him and his process.
    This has been unfair, and it is a joy to see it come to light. If this goes as I hope, I for one will have gained a step in respect of our USA system….

  42. htowntexan says: Aug 15, 2012 11:54 PM

    By the same token, if the NFL has uncontroverted proof the NFLPA asked for the delay, then shouldn’t the suit be over? I find it hard to believe that a lawyer would lie to a federal judge, so presumably the NFL will submit a declaration (which in federal court is signed under the penalty of perjury) substantiating the claim. But if the NFLPA submits a competing declaration denying this, then you’ve got a fact issue that presumably should go the jury.

  43. mjkelly77 says: Aug 15, 2012 11:55 PM

    Hopefully Commissioner Goodell produces the audio recording of Maurice Smith asking for delayed disciplinary action because he wanted to pursue his own investigation. Then it will be evident who the prevaricator really is.

  44. thegreatonesays says: Aug 16, 2012 12:07 AM

    Oh please with the this isn’t home cooked bs. I can’t stand Goodell but the judge still had a predetermined ruling to protect her judicial re-election. She has been looking for any excuse no matter how small to support her decision. You are supposed to let the evidence carry you to a ruling. Not try to steer evidence towards your decision you have already made. Would love to see Rog replaced. Would love even more to never see Vilma play again

  45. richndc says: Aug 16, 2012 12:08 AM

    I say as long as this broad can bang out a good bottom burp, she is A-OK with me!

  46. croghan1919 says: Aug 16, 2012 12:13 AM

    I gotta like the first comment from snap0179.
    The report and the rest of the comments…? YIKES!!!

  47. ascensionparish says: Aug 16, 2012 12:14 AM

    truthfactory says:Aug 15, 2012 10:51 PM

    I’ve never heard the NFLPA dispute the claim that they asked to delay the suspensions, so why is the judge now subtly accusing this was a lie?

    Seems to me she’s digging for a way to give the players an “out” by asking them to dispute something that they weren’t really planning on disputing so that she can create a loophole for them. Shady business…
    ———————————————-

    Let me help you with the tough ones.

    Vilma’s point is that Goodell made up his mind before any players had a chance to meet with him. This is the basis of the “fairness” argument of which Vilma’s counsel is convincing Judge Berrigan . So now we have the NFL caught in a claim that it was ready to levy player suspensions on a specific date; only later to say that it was still mulling over the decision after the fact.

    Please let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with.

  48. pjgrannan says: Aug 16, 2012 12:14 AM

    Mike
    I think you are focusing so closely on the defamation claim here that you are missing the forest for the trees.

    If – in fact – Goodell had already made his mind up on discipline for the players as of March 21 then the subsequent hearings were clearly a sham.

    If he had not made up his mind, then they just lied to a federal judge.

    Not a good fence to be sitting on.

  49. gammynomnom says: Aug 16, 2012 12:15 AM

    If it turns out Roger lied, will he suspend himself for ” dirtying the shield” ?

  50. prplpuzzetrz says: Aug 16, 2012 12:19 AM

    Why all the discontent toward Roger Goodell???

    You guys all bitch & Moan about how these players act like idiots. Over & over again. You just don’t get the fact that given the state of the Game, there Are tons of issues we don’t even realize. The concussion suit alone could bring the NFL full circle.
    Roger is in a very tough position. He does things needed for the league, knowing dam well , everyone will loathe him for it, but it is a necessary job & I personally think he has done a huge service to ensure we have football for the future!
    In regards to this lawsuit, Vilma will NOT win, the league has evidence, they have written & verbal testimony from Gregg Williams, Sean Payton, “private sources”….. Do you honestly think, Roger would lie?? No, he would not!
    Just think most of this knee jerk reactions are silly, and I for one know that someone like Goodell is needed to protect the NfL from outside influences & the league itself!

  51. musicman495 says: Aug 16, 2012 12:20 AM

    msclemons67 says: Aug 15, 2012 10:52 PM

    Translation: rather than applying the law this judge is looking for any excuse to support her own biased, predetermined judgment.
    ——————————-
    Perhaps we should await her ruling before we decide whether and how she is applying the law.

    My guess is that she thinks the law is clearly on Vilma’s side, but she is having to pour over the CBA to determine whether there is anything there that conflicts with the law.

  52. dontgooffwondering says: Aug 16, 2012 12:21 AM

    Goodell may or may not have lied, we don’t know that for certain, yet. But we DO know for a fact that the Saints organization lied about their “pay-for-performance” program for years before admitting any wrongdoing. How have people forgotten this so quickly? Everyone has chastised Goodell for reaching a conclusion without knowing all the facts and now you’re doing the exact same thing! The judge has repeatedly said or otherwise indicated that she will “rule for Vilma” if she can. She has yet to see all the evidence the league has (whether or not the evidence is legit is irrelevant if you don’t look at it first) but has somehow reached her own decision. This is pure hypocrisy and whichever side you are on, you can’t say that the NFL’s “investigation” was unfair and this façade of a judicial process is fair and the same goes the other way.

  53. crom1016 says: Aug 16, 2012 12:23 AM

    Where are all the posters saying Vilma should shut up and take his punishment? How dare he challenge the King of the NFL! The King has become a joke and it will be real interesting to see how much power he loses when all this is over.

  54. sdisme says: Aug 16, 2012 12:29 AM

    mjkelly77 says:
    Aug 15, 2012 11:55 PM
    Hopefully Commissioner Goodell produces the audio recording of Maurice Smith asking for delayed disciplinary action because he wanted to pursue his own investigation. Then it will be evident who the prevaricator really is.

    _________________________________

    Don’t need audio comments it was a March 3rd NFLPA press release. Problem is NFL said no on March 16th and in April Roger talked about still debating on player punishment.

  55. saintsfan26 says: Aug 16, 2012 12:30 AM

    Roger Goodell*

  56. vikingamericann says: Aug 16, 2012 12:32 AM

    truthfactory | Aug 15, 2012, 9:51 PM CDT

    I know you are a paid shill. How much does the NFL pay you to comment?

  57. vikingamericann says: Aug 16, 2012 12:39 AM

    phloorioisanarcissist | Aug 15, 2012, 10:20 PM CDT
    Real suprise a judge from the eastern district of Louisiana is saying she would rule in favor of Vilma if she could… and to no surprise she is trying to find a way to rule in his favor. The whole state of Louisiana will hate her if she doesn’t.

    Bottom line… Vilma has no case here. He never did. Even if she makes an illegitimate ruling in his favor it will quickly be overturned on appeal outside the state of Louisiana where a Judge won’t have to worry about public opinion and disgruntled Saint fans.

    The appeals court is located in New Orleans. Thanks for playing better luck next time.

  58. miamisaint3255 says: Aug 16, 2012 12:40 AM

    phloorioisanarcissist says:
    Aug 15, 2012 11:20 PM
    Real suprise a judge from the eastern district of Louisiana is saying she would rule in favor of Vilma if she could… and to no surprise she is trying to find a way to rule in his favor. The whole state of Louisiana will hate her if she doesn’t.

    Bottom line… Vilma has no case here. He never did. Even if she makes an illegitimate ruling in his favor it will quickly be overturned on appeal outside the state of Louisiana where a Judge won’t have to worry about public opinion and disgruntled Saint fans.

    You are so clueless. Do you have any idea what you are talking about? Your general opinions above are way off base, but technically speaking please note that the 5th Circuit Ct. of Appeal is located in New Orleans, so if you are worried about federal judges in Louisiana being biased simply because they are located in La, then keep worrying. But believe me, these federal judges are not worried about what Louisiana residents think of their opinions. The judge in this case has an opinion based on the actual evidence she has looked at. You have your opinion that is basically whatever the NFL says must be true, even when there is no evidence back ing up NFL’s claims, and even when some of the weak “evidence” presented was actually fabricated and / or misrepresented by the NFL.

  59. hulkh0gansays says: Aug 16, 2012 12:44 AM

    It’s GODdell’s fault that the Redskins didn’t make it to the superbowl last year brother. Thankfully RG3 > GOD… brother.

  60. oleleatherneck says: Aug 16, 2012 12:51 AM

    “Bottom line… Vilma has no case here. He never did. Even if she makes an illegitimate ruling in his favor it will quickly be overturned on appeal outside the state of Louisiana where a Judge won’t have to worry about public opinion and disgruntled Saint fans.”

    And so when this thing goes to appeals court and doesn’t get overturned, are you still going to spout your jealous, ignorant, biased opinions so boldly?

  61. musicman495 says: Aug 16, 2012 12:57 AM

    truthfactory says: Aug 15, 2012 10:51 PM

    I’ve never heard the NFLPA dispute the claim that they asked to delay the suspensions, so why is the judge now subtly accusing this was a lie?
    ———————————
    As I understand it (the post is a bit confusing), the question is not whether the NFLPA asked for the delay. The question is whether, when the NFL announced the delay, they had already made the decision on the player’s cases. If so, no problem. If not, the judge could rule that when the NFL announced the delay they acted outside the actions that were necessary to discipline the players as outlined in the CBA, and potentially defamed Vilma and the others by publicly declaring their guilt before the decision was made.

  62. silentcount says: Aug 16, 2012 1:03 AM

    “I’m shocked, SHOCKED, to find fabricating going on in here.” The next thing you know, it will also be proven that Goodell was manipulating as well. Bottom line — Goodell’s investigation and the evidence didn’t justify the harshest punishments in the history of the NFL. The investigation by the FBI guy proves that Goodell is not to be trusted. Benson probably gave Goodell two options in their meeting — “Correct the mistakes you’ve made, or else start looking for another job.”

  63. saintsfan1111 says: Aug 16, 2012 1:24 AM

    Gentlemen start your shredders!

  64. sparky151 says: Aug 16, 2012 1:35 AM

    The CBA lets commissioner discipline be appealed to an impartial arbitrator of the league’s choice. Goodell has chosen himself as the impartial arbitrator. Shockingly, he has upheld the commissioner’s actions. The problem is that the CBA is a contract and all contracts contain warranties of good faith. If Goodell is going to act as an arbitrator, he has to be impartial. Not disclosing the evidence on which he made his decision is improper.

    I’d expect the judge to conclude that Goodell’s hearings were a sham and enjoin the league from suspending Vilma.

  65. gennieleko says: Aug 16, 2012 1:43 AM

    “Even if she makes an illegitimate ruling in his favor it will quickly be overturned on appeal outside the state of Louisiana where a Judge won’t have to worry about public opinion and disgruntled Saint fans.”

    Where do you think the appeal will take place? The 5th circuit is in New Orleans, in fact it’s just a quick trip upstairs from Judge Berrigan courtroom.

    Why do you assume her ruling is unfair… regardless of it’s direction. She has listened to oral arguments, testimony and read through ton’s of briefs and motions from both sides. Her job is to form an opinion based on the facts presented. The NFL is basically making the argument that they have no requirement to be fair and just – No judge approve of that stance.

  66. genericuser8888 says: Aug 16, 2012 1:50 AM

    Mike,

    If you ever write a book about bountygate, I’ll buy it.

    –genericuser8888

  67. genericuser8888 says: Aug 16, 2012 1:53 AM

    By the way, how come no story on Greg Williams conveniently taking a vacation to “backpack through Thailand” right before Vilma’s lawyer is getting ready to issue those subpoenas?

    He will be keep in touch with the NFL, but be out of reach of a federal subpoena. Interesting.

    http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/19797684/banned-williams-travels-but-stays-in-touch-with-nfl-hoping-for-reinstatement

  68. mwindle1973 says: Aug 16, 2012 1:57 AM

    sdisme says: Aug 15, 2012 10:49 PM

    From a March 16 Jim Trotter article in SI:

    In a letter sent to the NFL Players Association on Wednesday, the NFL said it would neither facilitate the union’s investigation into the bounty scandal involving the New Orleans Saints, nor delay discipline against players, coaches and management allegedly involved in the pay-for-performance program that took place the past three seasons.

    ______________

    So this round about proves that the NFLPA requested the delay before March 21. Which means the judge has to dismiss the case. She’s grasping at straws here.

  69. keepthisrealbro says: Aug 16, 2012 1:58 AM

    If you could, make that font a little smaller please. good god

  70. brenenostler says: Aug 16, 2012 1:58 AM

    I don’t get why there’s so many hate comments against Goodell. He had a lot of pressure on him to make the right punishments that would not only protect the league’s image, but ensure that bounties would never happen again. And he probably delayed punishing the players to make sure all the evidence was sufficient and credible enough to warrant punishment. And now he’s being treated like $hit for it. But sadly, I guess that’s what this world has come to.

  71. mwindle1973 says: Aug 16, 2012 2:02 AM

    drgreenstreak says: Aug 15, 2012 11:24 PM

    “Judge Berrigan will have caught the league with its fingers in the cookie jar of fabrication,…”

    Oh we know that’s what you’re hopin’ for, Mike.
    Bring down the man!

    Occupy the NFL!

    pfft…

    _____________

    Exactly, this is all wishful thinking for Florio. The judge has to be careful how she proceeds. She is borderline demonstrating a bias towards Vilma. She is trying to manufacture a way to award him a decision, when a legitimate one doesn’t exist. And that will lead to a high chance of appeal success. And that’s why in the end after her media circus is over she will dismiss this case. No judge wants their decision over-turned.

  72. pappavike says: Aug 16, 2012 2:07 AM

    Say, Has anybody thought just maybe Goodell has planed for this situation, And thats why he took so long to rule! He wanted to check with his lawyers, So he could have all his ducks in a row! Or Saints as it were. I’m not a Saints fan I’m a Football fan! And I’m sure pay for performance was common practice for all teams! The Saints were just dumb enough to get caught! Vilma might get his suspension cut! But not totally overturned

  73. patpatriotagain says: Aug 16, 2012 2:46 AM

    i’d rather have rozelle’s corpse as commish than goodell.

    Tagliabue, not so much

  74. deadeye says: Aug 16, 2012 3:12 AM

    You gotta love the intelligence of the NFLPA. They wisely bargain to give Goodell sweeping powers to discipline players in exchange for some concessions, then when the discipline comes they put it in the courts with activist judges guaranteed to take their side. Very crafty indeed.

  75. myhornispurple says: Aug 16, 2012 3:41 AM

    I hope Goodell fails. He needs to invest time on new helmets not destroying Vilmas livelihood. Goodell is evil.

  76. surviber says: Aug 16, 2012 4:28 AM

    NFL is lying. They are going to lose. They have spouted so much disinformation. Everyone has forgotten that it was in fact the NFL who solicited the NFLPA for their input. ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Goodell is “soliciting input” from the NFLPA because “he wants to hear what the NFLPA thinks, what it believes and what it recommends” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 3/22)NFLPA Still Waiting To Meet With Goodell Over Bountygate Punishments 3/23/12 They are not going to be able to prove it.

    http://m.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Daily/Issues/2012/03/23/Leagues-and-Governing-Bodies/Bountygate.aspx

  77. surviber says: Aug 16, 2012 4:49 AM

    4/2/12 AP Source: NFLPA hires lawyer for Saints bounties
    While Commissioner Roger Goodell weighs how to punish the two dozen or so players the league says might be connected to the bounties, the NFLPA also suggested that players have a lawyer and union representative present when they are interviewed by NFL investigators.
    The NFL has said that 22 to 27 defensive players were part of the Saints’ pay-for-pain bounty pool, which awarded thousands of dollars of cash bonuses from 2009-11 for vicious hits that knocked targeted opponents out of games. One example, according to the league: Linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to any New Orleans player who sidelined Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre during the 2010 NFC championship game.
    Gabe Feldman, a law professor and director of the Tulane Sports Law Program, said shortly after the NFL made its investigation public that he didn’t expect any criminal or civil legal action specifically tied to the bounties.

    “They’re difficult cases to bring, because it’s hard to prove the injury was caused by a tackle with specific intent to injure, rather than a regular tackle,’’ Feldman explained at the time. “We all know injuries are a part of football. There can’t be legal liability anytime there is an injury. Otherwise, you can’t have football.’’
    http://articles.boston.com/2012-04-02/sports/31276153_1_bounties-goodell-nflpa

    Vilma’s was mentioned by name a month before he was suspended.

  78. emmonsh says: Aug 16, 2012 5:07 AM

    The junde in their own state can find what she wants. goodell had every right to kck out all of them. any verdict for the players will get overthrown in appeals court. that one isnt in luoisianna[sp]

  79. londonbengal says: Aug 16, 2012 5:59 AM

    When are all of you Goodell haters gonna learn; he is employed by the NFL owners; (including Saints owner Tom Benson); who have just given him a huge contract extension and raise.

    Under his leadership he has increased NFL revenues; (and therefore ownership revenues); by billions of dollar$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    Hate on him all you like, but Roger Goodell is going to be NFL Commissioner for many many years, whatever happens with ‘bountygate’….

    The ‘Saints’ have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar; they should just suck it up and move on……

  80. teddybayer123 says: Aug 16, 2012 6:29 AM

    Whatever kingdom this plastic-man thinks he rules, it’s all up in the air in a court of law. He could win, he just might lose…the point is, let’s wait and see.

    And then what happens when Vilma gets back in the game and gets fined $1,000,000 for a single hit?

    He’s ruining the game.

  81. tlmoon2112 says: Aug 16, 2012 6:52 AM

    meandjuliojonesdownbytheschoolyard says:
    Aug 15, 2012 11:02 PM

    This judge is horrible. Why is she hell bent on finding for Vilma?

    *******************************************
    Answer: She’s a Clintoon appointee which means she’s a diehard pro-union person.

  82. lhoward35 says: Aug 16, 2012 7:10 AM

    This is not a Louisiana State judge in a Louisiana State court. This is a Federal judge in a Federal court, so the contention that this judge is biased in favor of the Saints is ridiculous. In this case there has been a great deal of posturing from both sides and if you have followed any of the testimony and arguments from both sides you would know that the NFL and their attorneys have already been found to have engaged in questionable behaviors, i.e. leaking the story of details of a settlement. Good for Judge Berrigan for calling them out on their lies as many WELL DOCUMENTED sources have shown that Goodell claimed to have still been reviewing evidence before deciding on player punishment. If this is the case, then he should not have made any derogatory statements about ANY of the players if the evidence had not been fully reviewed.

  83. bushwoodcc says: Aug 16, 2012 7:33 AM

    Yesterday PFT noted she had concerns with payment for clean legal hits resulting in injury being called a bounty. Too bad, that is still against league rules. So even if she overturns the suspension that will be overturned on appeal, the particpation was still agaisnt league rules. Besides, you only have to show those Favre hits and you can demonstrate how fast clean legal hits can turn into cheap shots. Secondly she expressed concerns about the NFL’s process, that will also not hold up as Vilma and company refused to participate in the investigation from the outset, the league can counter by saying suspensions became necessary as a combination of the findings and punishments (suspensions) were harsh to drive an appeal in an effort to get the players sides of events. But again, Vilma and company refused to participate. All these things are dictated by the CBA. Just remember, this organization was told repeatedly that if they were engaging in these practices to discontinue them. They did not.

    Now with that said, I think the player suspensions are excessive, but I also do believe you would have seen those reduced or reversed had the players gone into the appeals process. Once they refused to participate in the process that their pres agreed to in the CBA they lost the credibilty of attacking the process. Had they gone through the appeals process and then brought suit they’d have an actual leg to stand on.

    This judge is looking for reasons to rule in favor of the players, as she has said in her statements, the danger is that she potentially overlooks the players culpability in the process. That’s a fast track to getting overruled on appeal.

    What you have to remeber is that the team, players and NFLPA were given multiple chances to work with the league on this. They chose to try and stonewall it. There really isn’t much here legally for the player to hang their hats on, even if the NFL process was flawed, by refusing to participate the players abondoned the opportunity to dispute the integrity of the process. Add to that the fact that even AFTER the players refusal to participate in the appeals process the NFL extended the opportunity for the players to come in and present the version of events. So here is what you have: The league has to investiagate and players refuse to talk. League finds evidence of violations, league issues suspesnsion based on the available information and even after that the players refuse to talk to the NFL about it. That is why the judge has to look for reasons to rule in favor of the players. Becasue the players NEVER followed any of the practices agreed upon in the CBA. The judge will have a hard time ruling that the NFL process was flawed when the players violated the CBA in trying to thwart the porcess if she is concerned at all about being overruled on appeal.

  84. cash804 says: Aug 16, 2012 7:38 AM

    Only a Judge from Louisiana would be siding with Vilma and the Saints.

    Not even Greg Williams and/or Sean Peyton have spoken out in their defense.

    That HAS to leave any intelligent fan scratching their head…which eliminates the entire Saints fan base.

  85. bushwoodcc says: Aug 16, 2012 7:41 AM

    For the record, my opionion is that suspensions for Loomis, Payton and Williams were appropriate. Vitt should have gotten a 2 game suspension at max.

    Players suspensions are tough here, as the organization supported this. If you blow the whistle and nothing is found your career could be done. For that reason I think suspensions at the player level were heavy handed.

  86. cash804 says: Aug 16, 2012 7:56 AM

    lhoward35 says:

    Aug 16, 2012 7:10 AM
    This is not a Louisiana State judge in a Louisiana State court. This is a Federal judge in a Federal court…

    ==================================

    A Federal Judge who resides in Louisiana…get your facts straight.

  87. randomguy9999 says: Aug 16, 2012 8:02 AM

    don’t see why there are so many people bad mouthing goodell…

    there was a bounty system…. multiple people admitted it…. they deserved punishment… they got it…. Goodell did his job.

    the whole taking it to court thing is absurd

  88. trseann says: Aug 16, 2012 8:15 AM

    I’m so tired of this story that I don’t care who wins what case.

    But here’s what I’m pretty positive about.

    1. The NFL will continue to operate as it sees fit and just use this experience as a learning experience to erase any procedural slip ups or technicalities that may have occurred for next time it abuses its power. People shouting this as some sort of victory over the oppressive NFL need a reality check. It doesn’t question the power, it reinforces it by requiring a loophole that’s sure to be closed next time.

    2. Goodell isn’t going anywhere.

    Anyone expecting something contrary is under some kind of delusion.

  89. thefirstsmilergrogan says: Aug 16, 2012 8:25 AM

    i never thought i would say this sentence, but goodolebaghead above has pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    as for me i’m no former baghead, i root for philly. but when the head of an organization holds press conferences and issues press releases containing ridiculously false information about an employee, i think that falls outside the cba and is libelous. doesn’t seem that complicated to me. and for the nfl to keep adding to the lies makes it more apparent; except to those with a preconceived idea of a just outcome.

  90. lhoward35 says: Aug 16, 2012 9:10 AM

    My facts are straight cash804. I am also aware that the Federal Court is located in New Orleans. However, if you are attempting to imply that a Federal judge, appointed by a US President would show bias in a case before her simply because of her place of residence I would tread very lightly with that implication and conclusion. Sounds like grounds for another defamation suit to me!

  91. bkostela says: Aug 16, 2012 9:11 AM

    its going to be funny if goodell gets fired and the next guy up is even harder on player conduct. what do these guys think the next commissioner is going to let them drive drunk, hit their spouses and play football like it was the 60′s???

  92. nolarules says: Aug 16, 2012 10:24 AM

    this comment section is filled with so much fail-in-life that it is comical. you people know absolutely nothing….Did any of you Saints haters bother to notice that this is federeal court, with a Clinton appointee as the judge….

  93. sfsaintsfan says: Aug 16, 2012 11:07 AM

    The NFL is attempting to hide the true facts at all cost. They have even stashed Gregg Williams in Northern Thailand on an extended “backpacking” trip away from a possible Federal Subpoena from Vilma’s lawyers. I kid you not. The NFL has been in constant contact with Williams and wants to avoid at all cost truthful testimony from Williams that his “apology” was in fact written by the NFL. He is going on an extended trip to Africa next. What is the NFL trying to hide by keeping Williams out of touch?

  94. cssaint78 says: Aug 16, 2012 1:40 PM

    Slowly but surely, the NFL’s case falls apart piece by piece. The judge has also said the evidence against Vilma verges on the ridiculous. The only thing the NFL has to cling to is not whether their evidence is good (it’s not), but procedural loopholes (did the Saints exhaust their avenues of appeal.) Pretty flimsy NFL.

  95. commonsensedude says: Aug 16, 2012 5:29 PM

    I can only imagine Roger Goodell’s brilliant defense. “Yes, I said I made up my mind by March 21st. BUT I DIDN’T SAY WHICH YEAR!!!”

  96. dontgooffwondering says: Aug 16, 2012 6:13 PM

    I feel as though Vilma has done more damage to his reputation and character by so vehemently opposing and more or less attacking the NFL. If Michael Vick can go to jail for something as heinous as dog-fighting and get reinstated as a QB, what makes anyone think that even after Vilma serves his suspension and then IF the Saints get rid of him, then nobody will want him? If a team needs someone, the don’t just say no based on previous suspensions (even one as big as Vilma’s) they will evaluate what’s best for the team. What is not best for the team (the Saints in this case) is dragging out an offseason problem into the preseason and possibly the regular season, causing unwanted distractions and constant negative attention, as well as staff and players having to deal with courts when all they want is to get their team ready for football. Had it not been for Vilma’s defamation suit, the Saints as an organization would be able to move on and do what’s best for their team. This is a show of how Vilma is more concerned about himself than he is about the team and that is something that coaches and recruiters are more concerned about than prior suspensions.

  97. jg725 says: Aug 18, 2012 9:03 AM

    I’m sorry – but the fact that this case is being tried in Lousiana really, really takes away credibility from whatever decision is ultimately made.
    I personally do not lean toward one side or the other – I would just like to see justice served as fairly as possible.

  98. kingfish4242 says: Aug 18, 2012 7:47 PM

    jg725 says:
    Aug 18, 2012 9:03 AM
    I’m sorry – but the fact that this case is being tried in Lousiana really, really takes away credibility from whatever decision is ultimately made.
    I personally do not lean toward one side or the other – I would just like to see justice served as fairly as possible.

    …………………………………………………….

    Vilma is employed in Louisiana. If he were a member of the Dolphins for example,the case would be tried in Florida Federal court.

    The eventual decision given by Judge Berrigan will be fair in her opinion. That’s simply what Judges do. She won’t base her decision on the fact the Saints are the home team in her jurisdiction. Judges don’t like their decisions overturned and she knows this case is headed for the appellate court.

  99. saints4evah says: Aug 21, 2012 7:39 PM

    jonny42671 says:
    Aug 15, 2012 11:08 PM
    Cue the whining Saint fans!!

    62 253

    You spelled “winning” wrong bagadouche. And check your down votes there chum…it took more than us winning Saints fans to thumbs down your keyster into “no credibility because you are just an uninformed pitchfork waving mob member who just wants to see this crud happen to a team you hate” land…

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