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League, Vilma’s lawyer issue new statements on bounty case

Jonathan Vilma AP

Some of you have wondered why I’m not convinced that the bounty players actually will meet with the Commissioner, despite multiple reports that the meetings will happen.  Here’s some tangible evidence to support our theory/hypothesis/whatever.

The league has issued a bolt-from-the-blue statement of clarification regarding last Friday’s ruling from an internal appeals panel under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“In light of some confusion surrounding the ruling of the CBA Appeals Panel, it is important to understand what the panel did and did not rule,” the league says.  “The panel did not overturn the suspensions and did not say Commissioner Goodell overstepped his authority.”

The league goes on to explain that the “decision asks no more than that the Commissioner clarify his earlier rulings to ensure — and to clearly state — that no part of the prior ruling was attributable to matters within Professor Burbank’s authority (salary cap violations).”

“It does not require the commissioner to take additional evidence or to ‘reweigh’ the evidence currently in the record,” the league explains.  “The panel did not take issue with any findings that were made in the course of the investigation, did not exonerate anyone involved, and did not say that the Commissioner ‘overstepped his authority.’

“The panel made clear that the Commissioner had full authority to impose discipline on the players so long as the discipline was attributable to conduct detrimental to the league, rather than ‘undisclosed compensation.’ The panel asked only that he clarify that he was not relying on the “undisclosed” nature of the financial incentives in imposing the discipline.  In the meantime, the panel put the suspensions on hold.”

Peter Ginsberg, lawyer for Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, disagrees.  Strongly.

“It is interesting and illuminating that it took the NFL almost one week to develop a publishable rationalization of the Appeals Board decision,” Ginsberg said in a statement provided to PFT.  “Contrary to the NFL’s media statement, the Appeals Panel voided the suspensions — it did not ‘put the suspensions on hold,’ as the NFL now pretends.  And the Appeals Board is clearly based on the conclusion that the Commissioner overstepped his jurisdiction.”

As we read the four-page summary decision from the appeals panel (a full decision has not yet been released), the panel vacated the suspensions based on the belief that it wasn’t clear that Goodell remained within the confines of his exclusive authority to impose punishment for conduct detrimental to the game.  The appeals panel set the process back to square one, and the league now must go through the internal discipline and appeal process again.

There’s no reason — especially based on the league’s most recent statement — to think the NFL will handle the process any differently.  Which means there’s no reason — especially based on Ginsberg’s response — for the players to meet with the Commissioner.

Which makes us even more convinced that either the meetings won’t happen at all, or that they’ll be very unproductive.

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38 Responses to “League, Vilma’s lawyer issue new statements on bounty case”
  1. eagleswin says: Sep 13, 2012 11:39 AM

    Which again confirms my theory that the appeals panel’s only purpose in issuing the “request for clarification” was to make sure the players got paid.

    The panel’s decision was due a week before they issued it and the only reason the players have their salaries guaranteed is due to the timing of the “request for clarification”.

    ESPN should be fined for stating ad nauseum that the suspensions were “overturned”. It was a pretty popular word used on all the sports websites despite the absolute incorrectness of the statement.

  2. rva4179 says: Sep 13, 2012 11:41 AM

    Oh, the players will meet with the commissioner though. They will meet with the commissioner long enough to give him the testimonies that were given in Federal Court contradicting any claims of intent to injure. When this process again moves back to court, they also want to be able to tell Judge Berrigan that they did meet with the commissioner.

  3. panamon says: Sep 13, 2012 11:45 AM

    Ginsberg is full of BS from head to toe, how can he misrepresent what happened so blatantly WHILE trying to (wrongly) accuse Goodell of doing the same? I guess he has to tell Vilma he wasn’t being ignorant while claiming “Victory is mine!!!!”.

  4. bigjdve says: Sep 13, 2012 11:52 AM

    If I will Vilma, I would be getting ready for my suspension.

    Ginsburg routinely loses these cases but still tries to posture as if he knows what he is talking about.

    He can say what he wants, but he needs to realize the NFL is telling everyone how they look at it, and at the end of the day the league was given a do over, this isn’t an appeal and there is a big difference.

    He still thinks he is going to win with what he has been doing. He is really misinformed and Vilma should be paying attention as he is the one that will have the problem.

  5. emmonsh says: Sep 13, 2012 11:52 AM

    so this moron thinks the nfl should have issued a statement in 10 minutes. what so he could destroy it. the nfl is right. nothing was overturned. they need to clarify if was a bounty or money issue. Vilma will be gone for a year and then forever. he is done playing. the union is trying to wreck the nfl.

  6. thejuddstir says: Sep 13, 2012 11:54 AM

    I think the NFL should suspend Vilma for conduct detrimental to the league and suspend Ginsberg for conduct detrimental to the legal profession for running a ponzi scheme that involves getting players to spend large sums of money for selling “hope” and nothing more. Ask any NFL player who has retained Ginsberg for any action and ask ‘em “how did that go?”

  7. gronkspike802 says: Sep 13, 2012 11:57 AM

    Wait, is something going on with the Saints? What’s this trial business?

  8. kattykathy says: Sep 13, 2012 11:59 AM

    It’s clear that Goodell/league does not understand what being truthful is. They only know how to leak inacccurate “evidence” , lie about what(if any) “evidence they have, and run a smear campaign.

    The players should show up with cameras, mics, and impartial witnesses to the meeting. Then ask for the Dictator to provide any “evidence” and/or witnesses so that they can question them and have the opportunity to rebut and disprove anything. After the dictator refuses to provide evidence, the lawyers should begin questioning Goodell intensely on timeframes he made his mind up about punishments, his true agendas, and inaccuracies in his “leaked evidence”.
    When Goodell refuses to answer, then the players should get up and leave. Next move is to wait for the dictator to hand down the same suspensions as before and then wait for the Honorable Judge Berrigan to overturn and smack down Goodell publicly

  9. tmar1961 says: Sep 13, 2012 12:03 PM

    —the panel vacated the suspensions based on the belief that it wasn’t clear that Goodell remained within the confines of his exclusive authority to impose punishment for conduct detrimental to the game.—

    If that doesnt state that the suspensions were overturned or that Goodell overstepped his power, i dont know what does. Its no longer just a matter of proving pay for performance, which has been around on every team since NFL was started, its now a matter of proving intent to injur which would fall into Goodells authority under detrimental to the game.

  10. bigjdve says: Sep 13, 2012 12:05 PM

    kattykathy:

    You are a little off.

    Goodell isn’t a dictator, he didn’t make the policy, the both the Union and the League did. It was agreed upon by both sides. A dictator makes the choice by them-self.

    He isn’t providing inaccurate, he is providing the evidence that he used to make his decision. It is the responsibility of the players to refute the evidence, which they never did in a hearing. The spouted off about it to the media but never in a hearing.

    That is on them, not the commissioner. If they think the evidence doesn’t show their guilt they should go talk to him and show him how it doesn’t. Remember a he said/she said doesn’t work in that case because it isn’t them against the commish. It is them against the evidence the league provided.

    That is any court case – just ask OJ

  11. silentcount says: Sep 13, 2012 12:16 PM

    Fact is, all football players target the guy with the ball, and they get paid for performance, in some cases a million dollars per game. That is much more of an incentive than a free beer for a hard hit. It doesn’t make the game more politically correct to suddenly pretend outrage that aggressive motivational language precedes aggressive play on the field. Based upon what occurred on the field, the Saints did not deserve to have coaches and players suspended. If so, then the other 31 teams should have their head coach and players suspended for a year, lose draft picks, and be fined half a million dollars. If Goodell doesn’t correct the mistakes he has made, then he is the most detrimental thing to the NFL and the obstruction of fair play.

  12. purpleguy says: Sep 13, 2012 12:37 PM

    For God’s sake, could the NFLPA and the NFL just agree to jointly suspend Ginsberg? That would solve 90% of the problem.

  13. emmonsh says: Sep 13, 2012 12:41 PM

    silentcount when some1 targets a players injury to try and disable him thats illegal. heck all the plaers are sueing the nfl because they didnt know they could get hurt. all the union is trying to do is make their case better. the saints are bums that need to be driven out of sports. Players and teams like that dont belong in professional sports. now crazy kathy cant stand the idea here heros are probably the biggest lowlifes to ever play sports and she will never get over it. I have heard doesnt of videos and remarks that put 100% of the charges real. besides that you have to admit that bree,s is a bum now that payton isnt there. he was no good in san diago and now without peyton he reverts back to hisself.lol have to admit they deserve it.

  14. daveman8403 says: Sep 13, 2012 12:43 PM

    @bigjdve

    WHAT are you talking about?! Not only did the players refute what little evidence he provided to them, but the NFL themselves said it was inaccurate after the issue were brought up.

    1. 180 pages of evidence of the supposed 50,000. less than 1%.
    2. ledger . contains Vitt’s name. Vitt complained, and Goodell said it was inaccurate. If that is wrong, why should any of the ledger (which was a typed copy…never saw original) be taken as evidence.
    3. Greg Williams speech and interview with player.
    a. greg williams speech is over the top, but not proof bounties in any way. Goodell did not know about this speech unitl after suspensions were handed out.
    b. Interview with player did not even exist until after suspensions were issued. How can that be part of you evidence? It doesn’t even say anything beyond pay-for-performance.

    sorry, no evidence has been shown to anyone outside of the NFL office.

  15. eyeh8goodell says: Sep 13, 2012 12:44 PM

    Give it up, Goodell. You got nothing and we all know it. If you had it, you would’ve shown it by now. Simple common sense and logic. You wouldn’t sit there taking the PR hit to yourself and the Shield if you had anything concrete. You’re not fooling anybody with even half a brain. Get over yourself. The NFL isn’t about you.

  16. blutbaddenbill says: Sep 13, 2012 12:45 PM

    he should get at least an 8 game suspension. the other guys should just get half of what they originally set to get.

  17. richndc says: Sep 13, 2012 12:52 PM

    ahh, more lawyering, which means more know-nothing idiots attempting legal logic to argue over this, knowing less than 10% of the whole matter. I think an embargo on this story is now due.

  18. richndc says: Sep 13, 2012 12:56 PM

    What’s even funnier is how people actually believe this “Goodell is done” He’s outta here” nonsense. I would like one person to explain NOT WHY, but HOW you think this will happen? Because a bunch of trolls on message boards who never played single down of real football say so? Or worse, those that have played who think this whole things boils down to “well, that’s what football is” or some kind of “boys will be boys” thing. I really hope many of you are not registered voters.

  19. goodolebaghead says: Sep 13, 2012 1:06 PM

    Even if Goodell came to your house, and told some of you he straight up lied, you would still think the Saints are horrible dirty players. You think that because of the smear campaign he was running back in March. You bought it hook line and sinker and your egos won’t allow you to imagine that maybe the Saints aren’t any different than the other 31 teams.

    But, for the sake of argument, let’s say the Saints are guilty of trying to break kneecaps to win. Then why did Goodell do such a horrible job of bringing them to justice? Seriously, his case has been a joke this whole time. If you seriously think the Saints are guilty, then you should be mad that Goodell has snarked this up so bad.

  20. kattykathy says: Sep 13, 2012 1:29 PM

    @bigjdve

    Sorry but you are waaaay off AGAIN. Goodell the DICTATOR has not provided the players or their attorneys ANY evidence. That is one of the reasons they have so far refused to participate in Goodells Sham hearings. How can a person defend themselves against charges if they don’t know what evidence is supposedly assembled against them?

    Prosecutors must provide the defense with the evidence against the accused, but Goodell doesn’t have to?

    In my husbands union contract at his employer it states that the company can fire “at will” any employee that participates in any act of sabotauge against company property. If the company wanted to fire hubby, they only have to make an accusation saying he destroyed property and can him. They don’t have to show him any proof.
    Does that make it right?
    Does that mean he has no other recourse?
    Does that mean he should just accept and not hire legal representation to defend himself?
    Does that mean the law can’t say hey, wait a minute, that is not legal?

    Just cause there is a union contract, it doesnt mean a company or DICTATOR can just do whatever they want

  21. randomguy9999 says: Sep 13, 2012 1:37 PM

    reality is this: Attorneys tell their clients they are right all the time so they can get an argument going and run the hourly clock to get paid….

    reality is also this:
    – in spite of this procedural misstep, the NFL has the CBA right to discipline players for a very wide variety of behaviour.
    – these players had a bounty system… people admitted it
    – they are gonna get punished and rightfully so

    the only variable is how much money Ginsburg is going to hoover out of Vilma’s bank account…

    and that’s Vilma’s own fault…

  22. bigjdve says: Sep 13, 2012 1:46 PM

    daveman8403:

    when talking about evidence, like I said, it doesn’t matter if you, myself, or anyone else agrees with it if the judges believes it. The judges perception is the one that matters.

    The players refuted being part of a bounty program but said that they were part of a Pay for Play program. Judge Berrigan later stated that Pay for Play can be considered a bounty program.

    So with regards to conduct detrimental, that is enough.

    Does what Goodell has released show definitively show that Vilma or any of the other 4 had intent to injure, I don’t know. I don’t think that it is enough to say that they took money. However I am not the judge. He is.

    And let me know tell you, if I was Vilma, I would be in there every time he said meet so I could say, this evidence is wrong and here is why.

    However I am also not the player.

    So what I think doesn’t matter.

  23. insanelomein2 says: Sep 13, 2012 1:49 PM

    To all those bashing Goodell,

    Where is Sean Payton and Greg Williams on this matter? How come they have accepted the sanctions placed upon them? They cheated to win and therefore won a Super Bowl for a decaying fanbase.

    Everyday its crybaby Jonathan Vilma and his lawyer with the “boo hoos” and the “it wasn’t me” garbage.

    Players from other organizations that were coached by Greg Williams have stated that there was a bounty during games; former players like Chris Carter and Herm Edwards even claimed that a bounty was just something that gets imposed in a locker room prior to a game.

  24. dadindebt6 says: Sep 13, 2012 1:58 PM

    Everyone who rants against Goodell has to remember that the majority of his evidence has been withheld from the public because he has to protect the sources. I am sure that once the Bounty Four and their lawyers sign a binding agreement not to publicly diclose the identities of the sources, that Goodell would share that evidence with THEM! The rest of us will never see it.

    Think about this! What is that source turns out to be Payton, or Vitt, or even Vilma himself! Suppose they were told to challenge things publicly so as to throw suspicion away from themselves.

    Tell me. Is this idea really anymore radical than what the “He has no evidence!” Crowd is saying. The truth is WE DON’T KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON BEHIND THE SCENES AND WE PROBABLY NEVER WILL.

  25. daveman8403 says: Sep 13, 2012 2:05 PM

    bigjdve:

    He DID NOT SHOW VILMA EVIDENCE. How can he refute something that isn’t there? Inf fact the NFL refused to look at any counter evidence the players had. (not much of a fair appeal if you ask me…,which is required in the CBA)

    Correct, according to the ‘Bounty Rule’—pay-for-performance fall under it, but that is not what Goodell portrayed. That is not what the most extreme punishments in league history are for. punishment does not fit crime. in short, the rule is worded to allow pay-for-performance to fall under a “bounty”, but that does not mean it is not a salary cap issue, that a judge won’t overturn on those grounds alone. I think it is quite funny to go back and look at the accusations Goodell has put forth over the course of time. first it was “incentive to injure players”. Now it is “money for big plays that may or may not injure players”. Kinda sounds like backtracking because he has no evidence to back it up. Every play is a play that may or may not injure a player.

    The judge can definitely rule in the players favor now.

  26. dadindebt6 says: Sep 13, 2012 2:07 PM

    TO KATHYKATHY:

    No a union contract does not give a person unilateral, dictatorial power. However, Goodell has not made up or usurped any power that the CBA does not specifically give him. Everything he has done so far has been within his rights as defined by the contract. And despie what Judge Berrigan may do, eventually the truth that the courts are required not to interfere with a properly negotiated contract will win the day.

  27. daveman8403 says: Sep 13, 2012 2:16 PM

    dadindebt6:

    You realize part of the CBA dictates that the players receive a fair appeal, right? that alone leaves a judge room to say he violated the CBA. which part of the appeals process was fair? The part where 1% of the evidence was shone and then proven inaccurate and flimsy at best? Or the part where the NFL denied any entrance of explicable evidence and testimony?

  28. insanelomein2 says: Sep 13, 2012 2:22 PM

    @ daveman,

    How could Goodell show Vilma any evidence when Vilma refuses to meet with the Commish.

    Goodell gave players plenty of chances to come to Park Ave and speak with them and instead the players lawyered up.

    In my opinion if the defendants (the players) felt the need to lawyer up instead of have a face-to-face meeting with the Commish that proves that even they knew that they did something against the rules in place by the NFLPA and NFL.

  29. rhodeislandpatriotsfan says: Sep 13, 2012 2:28 PM

    If, after affording the accused players yet another opportunity to be heard, Goodell can aver in good faith that the suspensions arose solely out of the CBA Article 46 “conduct detrimental” clause, then I think the Appeals Panel ruling allows the Commissioner to simply reinstate the suspensions he previously handed down. Stated somewhat differently, I don’t think the “Commish” needs to start the determination process over again from square one.

  30. antneejay2 says: Sep 13, 2012 2:36 PM

    The fact that Rog is acting within the bounds of the CBA doesn’t make him any less of a slimy weasel.

    To Roger and the league: Tell the truth – it’s easier to keep your story straight.

  31. tater2 says: Sep 13, 2012 2:44 PM

    Just when I thought I could not have less respect for Roger Goodell and the NFL, they go and prove me wrong. The NFL is big, the ego of this group running the NFL is bigger.
    The NFL decided that someone had to pay for what they (NFL) have created as a pay-to-injure program. They PICKED Vilma, Fujita and Smith because they are team leaders ( I’m not really sure why Hargrove was isolated even to bully originally) They have put a target on these 4 and are trying to make an example of them. They have the POWER and they could care less if they are fair or if they are right. The tact they have taken on this is boarder line stupid. They are looking more and more foolish with every move.
    Roger, if you do win this it will be a Pyrrhic victory for sure!

  32. bigjdve says: Sep 13, 2012 3:20 PM

    daveman8403 :

    The process is that at the initial hearing is where Goodell is supposed to provide evidence, that would be the hearing that Vilma didn’t attend. That would be the hearing that was also where the discipline was determined.

    Since there were no players at the initial hearing to refute the evidence, Goodell could’ve decided to only use that 1% of the evidence to make his decision. If then during the appeal, he showed what he used, it wouldn’t matter if he was showing 1% or not because he was showing 100% of what was used.

    If he wasn’t showing all that was used, then you are correct there is incredibly unfair. However, being objective, it is hard to hold Goodell to the fire about the exact process of the CBA when the players aren’t following it either. However that point is neither here nor there.

    In the end, now we have an arbitration panel that says Goodell just needs to clarify, I don’t know how much showing he is really going to do.

    With that ruling though, if Goodell clarifies the statement to only show Conduct Detrimental, Berrigan won’t have any grounds as the only thing she was going to rule on was jurisdiction. And that issue would’ve been cleared up. She has already stated that regarding defamation it looked to her that what Goodell had said was reasonable within the realm of his job to say what he said if his intention was to inform and not malign.

    For Vilma to prove that he was trying to malign is an uphill battle that would be exceedingly hard to prove.

  33. cliffordc05 says: Sep 13, 2012 3:26 PM

    Vilma is getting paid for the year. He is a declining player with a bad knee. He should be happy because this will probably be his last year in the league and it will have nothing to do with the bounty case.

    If he is on a roster next year it will be after being cut and resigned before the second game. He would make a very good insurance policy at linebacker but is probably no longer a starter.

  34. eyeh8goodell says: Sep 13, 2012 3:26 PM

    Lol at all you simpletons clamoring for these guys to be punished when you don’t even know what (if any) evidence there is. Says a whole lot about you. I’m not even a Saints fan, and I found the Katrina storylines as nauseating as anybody else. But I haven’t let that, or simple fan rivalry, compromise my objectivity. Goodell has a history of dishonesty so anybody buying this “50,000 pages of evidence” nonsense is just a fool. Period. Think about that…….50,000 pages. Go pick a large novel with 1000 pages and picture 50 of them stacked up. You really believe the league racked up that much documentation? Police murder investigations don’t even rack up that much paper. Use your heads. For once.

  35. daveman8403 says: Sep 13, 2012 5:07 PM

    bigjdve;

    Vilma walked out of the hearing because of it’s obvious unfairness (i.e. not letting players include evidence or witnesses). The rest of the players stayed the entire time.

    If you followed it, you would realize it was not a hearing at all. It was just the NFL showing their power point presentation of 180 pages. There was no interviewing of the accused or witnesses.

    Goodell could have easily ended if he had an 8th of the evidence he claims.

    The fact that the accused were never contacted prior to punishments issued should say it all. (look it up. Vilma’s name was in the media as a possible defendant, but was never formally accused by the NFL prior to punishments)

  36. surviber says: Sep 14, 2012 5:24 PM

    I think Rodger will suspend the players again. If he does Vilma will go back to Federal Court in front of Judge Berrigan.( The Judge who urged them to have this meeting). What’s not being fully reported(only small parts but not the whole important parts) is what Judge Berrigan said at the Aug 10th hearing: (this taken from court transcript)
    Judge Berrigan spoke of the procedural deficiencies:

    Well, I’ll be candid with you. I would like to rule in Mr. Vilma’s favor. I think the proceedings were neither transparent nor fair. I think I made that clear the other day. I think the refusal to identify the accusers, much less have them at the hearing to be cross-examined, to look at biases, flaws in their testimony, and 18,000 documents that apparently were relied upon by Mr. Goodell, less than 200 were actually provided to you, many of them were redacted. (My words here: the Judge saying this clarifies 2 things. One it kills the NFL’s shield of we are trying to protect the whistle blowers and two for those who say Goodell doesn’t have to show the evidence are call witnesses it’s not in the CBA. I would think the judge knows more about the law then you are me. She is saying he does)

    I do think you did exhaust your remedies at that hearing, because in essence, I think you were thwarted at every time by Mr. Goodell’s refusal to provide you meaningful access to witnesses and to documents. So I think you did, in fact, do everything you could at that hearing to exhaust. As you know, I do think the whole — I think this should have been dealt with by the System Arbitrator since it was a pay-for-performance program, or at least it was unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike conduct. It should have been — gone to mutual hearing officers. I think the penalty hearing was too harsh. I think it’s pretty obvious how I feel about all of that.

    My question, though, I guess my concern is, and you mentioned it a couple seconds ago, there is still an appeal pending which is going to be heard, I understand, on August 30th. So while I do think you exhausted your administrative remedies at the hearing before Mr. Goodell, I have some — I don’t think they are exhausted with respect to Mr. Burbank’s decision. So I don’t know that I can do anything prior to that 30th hearing. I guess I would like your thoughts on that.

    In sum, the judge thought that the NFL ran a kangaroo court style appeal process in front of Goodell.
    She did not make a ruling as she was waiting for the Burke Appeal Panel to make a ruling and let the CBA play out. If Goodell suspends again she can now step in and make a ruling as the players have no other recourse. Jonathan Vilma’s Defamation Lawsuit is also still in play it has not been dismissed. I think that is why Vilma is having a meeting on Monday ahead of the players. To see if Goodell will be transparent and show the evidence. If it’s more of the same as before then look for Vilma to walk out and go to court as he has more chips to play in this high stakes poker game.Also look for Judge Berrigan to issue TRO while all this plays out in court.

  37. dadindebt6 says: Sep 14, 2012 6:06 PM

    I have to disagree with you a bit. While the judge is saying that she feels the process was unfair, she did not cite any law or precedent that requires the NFL to provide the witnesses or evidence. She also stated that she thought she had to wait for the CBA appeals process to play out. That has happened with the Appeals Board stating that the NFL has every right to dicipline the players provided they limit the reasoning to Article 46–conduct detrimental to the league.

    So once Goodell re-issues the suspensions, the judge will only have her personal preferences to use as a reason to rule against the NFL. If she does that, the Appeals Court will strike her down.

  38. surviber says: Sep 16, 2012 4:38 AM

    dadindebt6 I think we will both have an answer to that by Wednesday.

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