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Source: League “definitely” offered eight-game reduction to Vilma

Jonathan Vilma Portrait Shoot Getty Images

Forgotten by many, the bounty cases are hardly gone.

As the judge presiding over the litigation apparently waits for the August 30 appeal of a key grievance ruling and presumably hopes the parties will find a way to work out their differences on their own, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the NFL “definitely” offered an eight-game reduction in Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s fine, at some point during the discussions.

Earlier this month, a report emerged that the league had offered to cut Vilma’s one-year suspension in half.  The NFL denied that any such offer had been made.

Our source, who is in position to know, says it happened.  It’s still not clear whether it was a formal offer or an implied — but nonetheless clear — indication that if Vilma would accept an eight-game reduction an eight-game reduction definitely would be available.  Regardless, the source says Vilma could have had it, if he had wanted it.

Vilma apparently didn’t want it.

It’s not known whether there’s a chance of getting the case resolved if the league would offer to cut Vilma’s ban by more than eight game.  (The other three players’ suspensions would have to be resolved, too.)  It’s believed, however, that the NFL’s lawyers hope to insulate Commissioner Roger Goodell from ever having to testify.  If that belief is accurate, and if Judge Helen G. Berrigan decides to convene a full-blown evidentiary hearing to resolve the conflicts in the sworn statements of Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita on the question of whether Goodell was ready to discipline players when he disciplined non-players on March 21, the NFL could make an aggressive run at settling the entire case.

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55 Responses to “Source: League “definitely” offered eight-game reduction to Vilma”
  1. hmpennypacker says: Aug 23, 2012 7:12 AM

    Why would he take it? If Goodell offered to halve the suspension he clearly hasn’t got a solid case. Vilma obviously thinks he can get the whole thing thrown out so why take a 50% reduction when you feel you have a very good chance of playng all 16 games?

  2. jackers252 says: Aug 23, 2012 7:14 AM

    What did everyone say about the Saints players and Coaches? Oh yeah, if they weren’t guilty of something, why wouldn’t they want to appeal to the Commish? Same can be said for old Roger, if he wasn’t guilty or lying about something, why wouldn’t he want to testify?

    Could it be that he may have gotten wrapped up in the moment and stretched the truth, used his position to influence the media, and obviously made an example out of the Saints?

    The CBA clearly says no suspensions for Pay for Performance. He went all-in on the bounty and pay to injure rhetoric at the beginning. Now he knows he screwed up and is trying to sell a Pay for Performance program as something more sinister. Kudos to Vilma for saying “Screw you” to the league.

    Like the sign outside Vilma’s restaurant says, “Do not serve this man!”

  3. jlinatl says: Aug 23, 2012 7:24 AM

    I thought a year was too long. If they offered him 8 games, and he said no he’ll have nobody to blame but himself if the appeal doesn’t work.

  4. joeyjopp says: Aug 23, 2012 7:34 AM

    I do not believe anything that is given as “definite” when the source is anonymous. Is this source is SO sure that this was offered then grow a pair and put your name to it. This is a wimp move because if it turns out to be lies then the source never gets questioned. If it turns out to be true then the source can say I was the guy that said that. Totally Wussy move. I have found too many times when the source is anonymous they just don’t know what is true and they are throwing a statement out there and hoping it is correct.

  5. dontgooffwondering says: Aug 23, 2012 7:35 AM

    I’m so sick of hearing about these “unknown” sources. I understand that you don’t want to incriminate anyone, but neither does the NFL, and they’ve been taken to task for not revealing their main source for the whole bounty investigation and thus formed the basis for the crusade against their “lack of transparency”. You can’t have it both ways.

  6. txxxchief says: Aug 23, 2012 7:41 AM

    Hmm, who could the source be? Probably not anyone in the league office, as they know they will be saked if they leak information such as this. That pretty much leaves someone rather high up in the NFLPA, Vilma himself or perhaps one of his attorneys. Could they be sending up a trial balloon to see is a deal can be reached? If so, does that seem to suggest that Vilma agrees that he had something to do with the bounty program?

  7. chatham10 says: Aug 23, 2012 7:46 AM

    A source? everybody has a source and none of them have a name.

  8. kellij666 says: Aug 23, 2012 7:48 AM

    stick to your guns vilma, goodell is about to have to back off this completely. you’ve got him back pedalling and his position of power has been shaken.

  9. santolonius says: Aug 23, 2012 7:50 AM

    vilma’s actions are those of a man who truly believes he is innocent. and since i have trouble believing anything goodell says these days…

  10. superseahawk says: Aug 23, 2012 7:51 AM

    I’m excited for this to end, I want to know who’s guilty. What if Goodell is? I’m ready for all hell to break loose either way.

  11. cwwgk says: Aug 23, 2012 7:56 AM

    Goodell has a proven track record of reducing suspensions, including lengthy ones, after having met with a player to hear their side of the story. He could very well have done the same with Vilma. The settlement offer certainly bolsters that possibility.

    However, Vilma instead chooses to remain on his soapbox and act like a petulant child. For such a supposedly slam dunk cases against Goodell and the league, Judge Berrigan is sure taking a long time to rule in Vilma’s favor. Particularly in regards to his request for a preliminary injunction. It could very well be she simply can’t find a legal basis to grant the injunction. One would expect the judge to have at least granted that by now if Goodell’s actions were as egregious as alleged.

    It would be nice if the matter could be resolved between the parties. Besides, Vilma’s running out of ways to try and insult the commissioner.

  12. LoCoSu@%s says: Aug 23, 2012 8:06 AM

    No idea if any of this is true, but it makes the League office look weak at best and totally incompetent and arbitrary at worst.

  13. jackers252 says: Aug 23, 2012 8:21 AM

    Each piece of “evidence” the league has produced has been junk and torn apart by the media.

    vs

    Saints players and coaches testimony, while under oath, in a federal courtroom.

  14. eagleswin says: Aug 23, 2012 8:22 AM

    If the deal was offered, wouldn’t Vilma be shouting it from the rooftops? He’s not exactly shy about bashing the commissioner.

    Obviously, I don’t have inside sources, but if it was offered to Vilma, he would’ve made sure that everyone knew it.

  15. walleyejon says: Aug 23, 2012 8:41 AM

    Do you have any idea what all the NFL attorney fees are going to do to beer prices at games? Stop the maddness Roger!

  16. saintsfan26 says: Aug 23, 2012 8:52 AM

    Why does the NFL keep lying?

  17. jpmelon says: Aug 23, 2012 8:53 AM

    If this gets settled with a 50% or more reduction, the NFL will have lost it’s ability to punish players. Period.

    If I was a player and I knew I could get my punishment significantly reduced by filing a lawsuit, I’d do it regardless of the likelyhood that I would win. The Vilma case shows that all you need to do is file the suit in your own state with a courthouse that is likely going to have a judge who will be sympothetic to your cause (either a fan him/herself or pressured to behave like a fan because the voters who gave you your job might not vote for you again if you don’t rule favorably for their team).

  18. macbull says: Aug 23, 2012 8:55 AM

    IMO, cutting Vilma’s suspension in half is just more evidence to support the charge that Goodell over reacted (big time) in this entire “Bountygate” witch hunt.

    If I’m Vilma and I know I did not participate in what Goodell is charging him with, NO WAY do I accept Goodell’s offer.

    Goodell needs to put under oath and deposed, to find out what the truth is, concerning what agenda Goodell and the NFL lawyers and investigators were pursuing.

    Time is running out and again “a source” leaks details of the proceedings…the NFL and Roger Goodell are leaking information in an attempt to sway public opinion.

  19. ronin36 says: Aug 23, 2012 8:59 AM

    I’m still waiting for someone in the league office to produce a memo… “We must set an example [of the Saints] to deter any pay-for-injury or pay-for-performance from re-occurring.”

    If a document like that ever surfaces… the bleep’s gonna hit the fan…

  20. bennyb82 says: Aug 23, 2012 9:06 AM

    The NFL probably said they would give him only 8 games…as long as he signed this letter explaining how sorry he was for helping to coordinate a bounty system.

  21. goldrush36 says: Aug 23, 2012 9:14 AM

    In the words of Vilma “where’s the proof” no proof a offer means no offer

  22. shortnbald says: Aug 23, 2012 9:16 AM

    And just think from Vilma’s point of view, if an 8-game reduction was offered, why would he not be in front of every camera proclaiming the NFL’s wronged him and here’s proof? Smells fishy to me, I’m not buying it, no matter how many unnamed sources you produce.

  23. bucrightoff says: Aug 23, 2012 9:16 AM

    If he was offered the deal, he would have taken it, no doubt about it. Even if he wins the defamation suit, that doesn’t overturn his suspension. If was legit offered a reduced suspension, he’d be a moron to say no.

    And once again, can a Saints fan tell me why Roger Goodell would be the NFLs credibility on the line just to screw the Saints, you know, one of the darlings of the league? They aren’t the Raiders…

  24. ronin36 says: Aug 23, 2012 9:17 AM

    I actually do believe that a reduced suspension was offered.

    Every major suspension (where games played are on the line).. the commish has stated an initial punishment, and then he and the player meet, blah, blah, blah… yadda yadda yadda… and the suspension is reduced.

    Essentially, if the player kneels infront of the commish (figuratively speaking) it gets reduced.

    Had Vilma done that (and I’m not saying he should have) the suspension would have been reduced.

    I personally believe Goodell wanted Vilma and the others to “kiss his ring”.. but they didn’t.. and as such, he’s gotten more upset, and taken the hard line.. “He did it, and that’s final.”

    I expect that kind of behavior out of little kids (like under the age of 10) not out of grown men… Just goes to prove age does not beget adulthood.

    I am only talking about the suspension/appeal/reduction cycle here.. I don’t even want to go do the “he did it/didn’t do it” argument…

  25. jrmbadger says: Aug 23, 2012 9:19 AM

    “It’s believed, however, that the NFL’s lawyers hope to insulate Commissioner Roger Goodell from ever having to testify. ”

    That’s all you have to know right there….. He’s afraid of having to tell the truth.

  26. touchdownroddywhite says: Aug 23, 2012 9:21 AM

    I never thought I’d pull for the Saints in any fashion, but I hope Vilma sticks it to em!

  27. gronkspike802 says: Aug 23, 2012 9:31 AM

    I love how Saints fans all complained about the anonymous testimonies, but when somebody anonymously says something that they like, it’s gotta be true and don’t question the validity at all. Can’t have it both ways.

  28. totallyuselessme says: Aug 23, 2012 9:32 AM

    I was on the other side at first, but…

    Man, every day, the NFL puts out more evidence that they’re lying.

    They’re just sticking to it at this point to save face, aren’t they? Pretty sad. What’s worse is just that I love football too much to do anything but shrug and keep watching anyway. Sucks.

  29. ronin36 says: Aug 23, 2012 9:43 AM

    I think, eventially, Judge Berrigan will right an opinion… “It’s obvious to anyone with common sense, that bias, and prejudice are inherent in a system were the commissioner is, judge, jury, and appeals court. But.. even though it’s morrally wrong, the CBA has been signed, and been agreed to.. there’s nothing legally I can do to change it.”

    In other words, just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s right.

  30. flipx99 says: Aug 23, 2012 9:44 AM

    shortnbald says:Aug 23, 2012 9:16 AM

    And just think from Vilma’s point of view, if an 8-game reduction was offered, why would he not be in front of every camera proclaiming the NFL’s wronged him and here’s proof? Smells fishy to me, I’m not buying it, no matter how many unnamed sources you produce.

    ____________________________

    Because he would be in violation of a court order mandating that settlement negotiations remain confidential.

    As a general rule, public policy favors voluntary resolutions of disputes. That is why settlement negotiations are confidential. That is why the parties agree that offers, agreements and even statements made during the negotiiation process are not to be construed as admissions of fault.

    These are the reasons you will not see Vilma running to the cameras about settlement offers.

  31. miles58a says: Aug 23, 2012 10:03 AM

    I’m a Saint’s fan and I truly believe that Goodell had no personal issue with the Saint’s. What I believe, is that he did not have a three year investigation, but he saw an opportunity to make advantage of a safety issue due to the retired players on is butt. It just took him three years and a new CBA in his favor to put this together. He took a small issue and made a huge deal out of it. There is no way anyone can get me to believe they have 50,000 pages of evidence from three years against the Saints and could not prove them guilty until at the end of last year when an unnamed source came forward and put it all together or 50,000 pages and nothing can prove them guilty without naming the source. Goodell waited that long because he needed the CBA to get done in his favor so he could do what he did and he had to at least go through the year because if he would have came forward at the begining of the year it would have looked to suspicious. Same as with the Cowboys and Redskins

  32. miles58a says: Aug 23, 2012 10:04 AM

    Goodell should offer to take a lie detector test

  33. vegasvinnie says: Aug 23, 2012 10:13 AM

    When Vilma was being silent, everyone was saying that he should fight this if he were innocent. Now that he’s fighting it and refuses to back down, the same MENSA candidates are trashing him for it. Shows that they’re nothing more than shallow haters.

  34. miles58a says: Aug 23, 2012 10:17 AM

    gronkspike802 says:
    Aug 23, 2012 9:31 AM
    I love how Saints fans all complained about the anonymous testimonies, but when somebody anonymously says something that they like, it’s gotta be true and don’t question the validity at all. Can’t have it both ways

    ————————————————–

    There’s a differance between being anonymous on a general statement that was made and being anonymous when your testimony is the main evidence in an important case against someone

  35. floriosfuglykid2 says: Aug 23, 2012 10:37 AM

    I have a source … in a position to know … who says space aliens run the government. Can’t tell you who he is though. But trust me … he knows.

  36. mjkelly77 says: Aug 23, 2012 10:50 AM

    flipx99 says:Aug 23, 2012 9:44 AM

    … Vilma’s point of view, if an 8-game reduction was offered, why would he not be in front of every camera proclaiming the NFL’s wronged him and here’s proof …
    ____________________________

    Because he would be in violation of a court order mandating that settlement negotiations remain confidential … These are the reasons you will not see Vilma running to the cameras about settlement offers.
    __________________

    Vilma is not smart enough to keep his mouth shut under this circumstance. He’d call a press conference in New Orleans if the offer were true.

  37. speedkills21 says: Aug 23, 2012 10:50 AM

    I bet Warren Sapp knows who the source is!!

  38. rmdz7 says: Aug 23, 2012 11:13 AM

    Too many posts I want to reply to, so I just fire some quick hits:

    Judge Berrigan is not a “New Orleans Judge” or “local Judge”… she is a FEDERAL Judge, born and raised in NY. Probably a Jets fan.

    In re anonymous sources: it’s not that Saints fans want to have their cake and eat it too, it is more like what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. If one is going to accept all of these anonymous sources making cases for the NFL, one most accept anonymous sources making cases against the NFL.

    The CBA is a legal contract, but it is not the US Constitution. I am no lawyer, but my layman’s understanding of the current situation, given the latest actions from the Judge, is that, when Goddell assumed the role of arbitrator under the CBA, while the CBA gave him the power to do so, it also implied that Goddell must be impartial while performing his role as arbitrator. If it is proven in court that Goddell was not impartial (as in he had his mind set on punishing players before his investigation was concluded) then in essence he violated the CBA.

    Goddell has a track record of shortening suspensions when players bow down to him and beg for mercy for their sins (ok, little “poetic waxing, but you know what I mean). But when there is a disagreement:
    * what happened with Star Caps?
    Players where taking a supplement that had a diuretic in it that was mot listed on the label. A freaking diuretic the players weren’t aware they were taking. But, because this particular diuretic was on the list of banned substances as a possible masking agent, and the NFL wants to portray itself as tough against PEDs, the NFL did not back down from it.
    * Where’s the reduced Sean Payton suspension? Sean Payton did everything that was asked of him, he kept quiet, he keeps quiet, even though Sean Payton had absolutely nothing to do with it. He went through the whole appeals charade.. where’s his reduced suspension?

    There is a reason why Goddell is hiding behind the CBA. Every single piece of “evidence” against he’s shown it’s been disproved, even though ESPN or SI don’t cover it and just regurgitate what the NFL says. And the reason is going to be either they fabricated this whole pay-to-injure thing and blow a money pool out of proportion, or whatever they have shows what a lot of people know, that these money pools exist(ed) throughout the league.. let’s see Goddell suspend all HCs in the NFL then..

  39. RedStateDave says: Aug 23, 2012 11:19 AM

    I’ve got a source that says NBC coverage of sports sucks almost as much as it’s political coverage. I disagree…it’s worse. And you knuckleheads defending Vilma sure are gullible.

  40. mjkelly77 says: Aug 23, 2012 11:43 AM

    miles58a says:Aug 23, 2012 10:04 AM

    Goodell should offer to take a lie detector test
    _________________

    Vilma should offer to take a polygraph.

  41. mjkelly77 says: Aug 23, 2012 11:48 AM

    vegasvinnie says:Aug 23, 2012 10:13 AM

    When Vilma was being silent, everyone was saying that he should fight this if he were innocent. Now that he’s fighting it and refuses to back down, the same MENSA candidates are trashing him for it. Shows that they’re nothing more than shallow haters.
    _______________

    Not everyone. I think Vilma is guilty of at least a pay for performance program. I also feel that Commissioner Goodell is saving the game and protecting the players from themselves. I’ve felt this way since the beginning and have been a member of MENSA for almost 35 years.

  42. tearsofhaten says: Aug 23, 2012 12:08 PM

    True or not… Goodell has lost his power and the NFL looks stupid in getting involved.

  43. bloggerguy1 says: Aug 23, 2012 12:23 PM

    All these sources I keep hearing about sound a lot like snitches

  44. redstar504 says: Aug 23, 2012 12:29 PM

    @jpmelon says:Aug 23, 2012 8:53 AM

    Just so you know the judge here is a Federal Judge, appointed by the President of the United States for life, so no election to worry about. She is not even from New Orleans. She does have democratic leanings so, yeh she is probably pro union.

    ————–
    The Vilma case shows that all you need to do is file the suit in your own state with a courthouse that is likely going to have a judge who will be sympothetic to your cause (either a fan him/herself or pressured to behave like a fan because the voters who gave you your job might not vote for you again if you don’t rule favorably for their team).

  45. rmdz7 says: Aug 23, 2012 12:45 PM

    @ mjkelly77

    Well, of you have been a MENSA member for 35 years, you can put 2 + 2 together.

    It has long been established the Saints, like just about any other team in the NFL, had a money pool going. You don’t have to take it from me, scores of players have come out and said so. And it was a money pool, not just “pay-for-performance”, because players had to pay money for things like bone-head plays, penalties, etc.

    Goddell is not trying to protect anyone but the balance sheet. And “saving” the game? Please. The game was just fine before he became commissioner. Yeah, 18-game regular season games, taking away home games from teams to play in London in a feeble attempt to make the NFL relevant in Europe, not paying referees and hiring a bunch of scabs, getting sued by insurance companies… oh, yeah, he’s Mr Saviour of the Game.

  46. tater2 says: Aug 23, 2012 1:17 PM

    It just seems so stinky that the NFL is so affraid to have a judge force them to expose the truth. Vilma KNOWS what he has done and is trying to get everything out. Roger Goodell thinks he knows what Vilma has done and he is trying to keep everything in the dark.
    This crossed the line of deterrence and entered vindictive actions a long time ago. The point of no tolerence on extra pay for anything had certainly been made…..

  47. annes22 says: Aug 23, 2012 1:18 PM

    Putting a picture of Godall in the restaurant window is really a smart thing to do. Not to serve him.
    Ask Steven A what he thinks about Vilma doing that?
    I can’t believe Vilama is dumb but obviously he is.
    How stupid.

  48. emmonsh says: Aug 23, 2012 1:42 PM

    so vilmas laywer or the nflpa sends a annomynous letter means that goodell is lying. how the hell does that mean vilma is innocent. he will never play again. i hope brees breaks his leg 1st game and never plays again. only way that the taints get what they deserve. what a bunch of losers.

  49. daveman8403 says: Aug 23, 2012 2:32 PM

    Who said someone sent an anonymous letter? You are just making things up. You are also the worst kind of person. You are mad about an alleged Pay-Injury-Program”, but at the same time want Brees to break his leg? what is wrong with you? NO ONE has seen any evidence that Vilma did anything except the the leger, which the NFL even says now that it was not accurate. Explain to me how the Saints deserve any of that. Let me guess. you are either a Vikings fan or a Falcon fan.

  50. jchuber says: Aug 23, 2012 3:35 PM

    After the next CBA, you will see godell selling hot dogs and beer, and helping groundskeepers take tarps off the field.

    He is simply a tryant to the players, and should be appointed as offical owner butt kisser for the NFL

  51. andrusw says: Aug 23, 2012 6:26 PM

    “If he was offered the deal, he would have taken it, no doubt about it. Even if he wins the defamation suit, that doesn’t overturn his suspension. If was legit offered a reduced suspension, he’d be a moron to say no.”

    If I know that I am not guilty of what I am accused of, ANY penalty is too much. It’s principal. I wouldn’t settle for anything less than complete exoneration. Is that hard to understand?

  52. packhawk04 says: Aug 23, 2012 7:03 PM

    So much to respond to, but ill point out a few things… the judge basically saying “just because its legal doesnt make it right.” Shes absolutley correct. Too bad its, you know, legal. The players agreed to this.

    Vilma and the players thought the appeal was a dog and pony show and they never wouldve been taken seriously. Thats dynamite. Except that goodell can point to numerous examples of shortening punishments after meeting with the players.

    “Goodell is hiding behind the CBA because he has no evidence.” While this may be true, he also may be hiding it because its a legal document that the players agreed to giving him authority to do this. Ask judge berrigan, who desperatley wants to rule in favor of vilma, but cant. She’ll tell you all about it.

  53. lafayettesaint says: Aug 23, 2012 8:55 PM

    Goodell used Mike Cerullo as a credible wittness and he’s about as credible as Goodell himself.
    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/07/02/vilma-suit-outs-mike-cerullo-as-bounty-whistleblower/

  54. justiceforhypocrites says: Aug 24, 2012 4:58 AM

    Sorry Patriots fans, but I have BAD NEWS. I have heard from a reliable, but anonymous source (the housekeeper of the brother of the parakeet’s cousin that used to live near my dog’s house) that there is a BOUNTY investigation being launched against the Patriots.

    It seems that one of their players (Jermaine Cunningham) applied a clean, legal hit against Michael Vick which resulted in a “cart off”. And as the evidence suggests, he did this because he was PAID (by the salary he earns from his team) to do it, not just for helmet stickers. Goodell no likey.

    Wait a minute, this just in from my anonymous source, Goodell has burned the game tape of the aforementioned hit. Nevermind. Carry on NFL.

  55. barrywhodat says: Aug 26, 2012 1:49 AM

    Hey emmonsh what a dumb name to hide behind how do you know that Vilma’s guilty, have you met with goodell and seen the so called evidence first hand? And as for as you being such a jerk about Drew Bree’s breaking his leg, how about leaving your real name and email address so we can talk to you man to man or maybe in your case man to little girl. Your nothing but a hateful jerk who’s probably a Vikings fan or some other team that The SAINTS and DREW BREE’S have beat the crap out of in the last six years. Hey emmonsh stop being a little punk and show your face instead hiding behind the autonomy of the net, but that’s probably your life sitting by yourself with no friends in a little dark room thinking your so clever by trashing A Good Team, with Great Coaches and Great Players like Jonathan Vilma and Drew Bree’s. FREE SEAN PEYTON – FREE JV #51 – Fire goodell
    Barry Sanchez
    Powder Springs, Ga. WHO DAT

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