Though Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma ultimately hopes to secure a reversal of his bounty suspension, Vilma remains willing to proceed with the internal appeal process — as long as Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t the person handling the appeal.
As part of Vilma’s latest filing in federal court, Vilma asks that Judge Helen Berrigan disqualify Goodell and appoint an independent arbitrator.
The argument arises from the legal requirement that a private arbitrator be impartial. Rather than waiting for Goodell to issue a decision that later would be attacked as impartial, Vilma wants an impartial arbitrator to be appointed now.
It’s not clear whether the Federal Arbitration Act contemplates direct judicial involvement in a private arbitration before the arbitration has ended. Instead, it’s possible that Judge Berrigan will simply tell the NFL to proceed at its own risk — and that she possibly will overturn the entire suspension if she believes that Goodell wasn’t impartial.