Skip to content

Vilma’s lawyer has concerns about Tagliabue as arbitrator

8AFF9AE72128326EED639EB9CD161_h242_w430_m2_q80_cKrlTYXFu Getty Images

The NFLPA regarded the decision of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to step aside from the appeal hearing in the bounty cases as a major victory.  On the surface, it was.

But now that Goodell is out and former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue is in, there’s no guarantee that the players suspended by current Commissioner will be happy with the process used or the outcome reached by Goodell’s predecessor.

“Any time we move towards a fair evaluation of the evidence it is a positive development,” Jonathan Vilma’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, told Albert Breer of NFL Network.  “Commissioner Goodell’s belated recognition that he cannot possibly serve as an impartial and unbiased arbitrator is certainly a positive development. And we have enormous respect for Paul Tagliabue.

“Having said that, we now need to learn whether Commissioner Tagliabue plans to provide to us the fundamental rights that Commissioner Goodell ignored, including the right to examine the accusers and to see the evidence, and also we need to consider that Commissioner Tagliabue is counsel to the law firm representing Commissioner Goodell in Jonathan’s defamation lawsuit, as well as representing the NFL in Jonathan’s challenge to the entire process in this matter.”

In a court of law, the rules of professional conduct and judicial ethics would never allow the judge and one of the lawyers to have an association through the same law firm.  It’s a point that the suspended players should make and preserve and use if necessary before Judge Helen Berrigan, who possibly will be troubled by the fact that Tagliabue and the league’s lawyers are branches on the same legal tree.

But the bigger question is whether Tagliabue will, as Ginsberg said, require the NFL to produce former Saints coordinator Gregg Williams and former Saints assistant Mike Cerullo as witnesses at the appeal hearing, to explain and reconcile their sworn statements given to the league office.  And whether Tagliabue will expect something more than a cursory disclosure of documents supporting the conclusion that a bounty program existed.

Also, while the suspended players have not yet shown any desire to pursue the appeal process under the Collective Bargaining Agreement that resulted in the first wave of suspensions being vacated based on the notion that Goodell failed to stay clearly within his lane of jurisdiction, Tagliabue must avoid straying into the territory of salary-cap violations, or a new attack under the CBA could become likely.

The most obvious litmus test will be whether Tagliabue insists that Williams and Cerullo testify.  Though requiring them to be present won’t operate as a guarantee that the process will be truly fair and impartial, not demanding their testimony will show that the process remains defective — and it will significantly increase the likelihood of Judge Berrigan overturning the suspensions.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
Permalink 53 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints, Rumor Mill, Top Stories
53 Responses to “Vilma’s lawyer has concerns about Tagliabue as arbitrator”
  1. nightrain42 says: Oct 20, 2012 9:05 AM

    Stop crying. You wanted Goodell to step aside, he did. Everyone knows your guilty, so stop crying.

  2. franktherat96 says: Oct 20, 2012 9:12 AM

    Roger Goodell’s house of cards continues to fall with every move he makes. He does things like this and sends out a press release late on a friday in the hopes that it will get burried by the weekend. Sorry Roger, You Fail again!

  3. Patriot42 says: Oct 20, 2012 9:17 AM

    Of course he knows he is guilty and any intelligent human knows it too. Fans want child molesters, murders, rapist and serial killers to continue playing to help their team win.

  4. succulentnipples says: Oct 20, 2012 9:19 AM

    Management always lies.

  5. dryzzt23 says: Oct 20, 2012 9:24 AM

    Vilma is spending a ton of money on lawyers, assuming that he has hired his own legal team. If the NFLPA is footing the bill, then other players should be fuming over this.

    If Vilma IS paying, how soon until he demands a new contract?

  6. evilfhud says: Oct 20, 2012 9:26 AM

    Vilma, please,…wont you….SHUUDDUP and go away. Who did you think you would get to replace Goodell? Larry Johnson?

  7. stallyns1 says: Oct 20, 2012 9:31 AM

    What’s next, are the bounty suspects going to try to have evidence removed?

  8. sampulls says: Oct 20, 2012 9:32 AM

    The fair arbitrator would be drew brees.

  9. clownsfan says: Oct 20, 2012 9:39 AM

    I don’t know why but I thought Tags was dead.

  10. souldogdave says: Oct 20, 2012 9:42 AM

    This conflict of interest would never be allowed in a real court of law. It makes this a joke, a whitewash, a failure. They just don’t know how to do this fairly.

  11. marthisdil says: Oct 20, 2012 9:53 AM

    Vilma would complain about it if Jesus himself were the arbiter.

    He thinks of himself as above judgment….

  12. dadawg77 says: Oct 20, 2012 9:55 AM

    Actually the question as the NFL
    posed it, is: did the players participate in a program that rewarded illegal action on the field with the purpose of injury. And not that they participated in program that rewarded big plays with bonuses that violated the salary cap rules. The former question has some doubt but no one has denied the later, just that wasn’t Goodell’s ruling.

  13. mgpet says: Oct 20, 2012 10:02 AM

    You don’t have “fundamental rights” in this situation, tough guy.

  14. blmonroe12 says: Oct 20, 2012 10:03 AM

    Seems like they got exactly what they asked for and it’s still not enough.

  15. bathroomben7 says: Oct 20, 2012 10:10 AM

    Oh good grief! The only thing Vilma hasn’t baselessly complained about so far is that the NFL is racist. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is coming next. This guy will say anything to try to get away with what he did. No class, no shame. When gone Vilma is, a better place the NFL will be.

  16. randomguy9999 says: Oct 20, 2012 10:16 AM

    fans have concerns that he cheated their teams but just beating up players instead of outplaying them

  17. hehateme2 says: Oct 20, 2012 10:23 AM

    We’ll all be glad when this blows up in Vilma’s face. He’s not going to win.

  18. mwindle1973 says: Oct 20, 2012 10:24 AM

    Yeah, they want someone who is not in any way associated with the NFL to decide this matter. Now how is that a fair process? I think Goodell just pulled a checkmate. All people have said through this whole thing is that Tags wouldn’t have handled it this way. What people don’t realize is Goodell was general counsel for the NFL for some time under Tags. Tags would’ve done what was best for the NFL too. And at this point you can’t allow these things to go on anymore or there will not be an NFL in the future due to lawsuits. They gave the Saints 2 chances to stop without punishment. But they had to keep doing it. I personally don’t see how anyone but Fujita stands a chance of winning anything on appeal. And this basically ends the court case. THe whole case is based on Goodell’s supposed abuse of power. Now he has voluntarily relinquished it. THe players lawyers made a grave mistake. THey called for someone (anyone for that matter) to replace Goodell in deciding this matter. And now they have it. So to now complain that the person has associations to the NFL and Goodell, is not a valid argument. THey should’ve brought that up when requesting that Goodell step down from the appeals process. THey didn’t say step down, and BTW don’t appoint a former or current NFL employee to decide. I commend Goodell for doing this, as it will close this issue up. But personally I don’t think it’s fair that these 4 players get a special disciplinary process that no other players will ever receive.

  19. udjets says: Oct 20, 2012 10:28 AM

    Ok, I’ve read these articles for a while now and refused to comment until now. Hey, all you armchair lawyers out there. There is no point arguing about a “real court of law” or any right to face your accuser. This is not a criminal case, therefore these rights you claim are being violated don’t apply.

    Secondly, the NFL is a large corporation. Do you really believe Goodell doesn’t have some kind of counsel (lawyers) helping him with this process? To go after these guys not once, but yet a second time even after being given a do-over shows there is something here.

    Lastly, we the fans are the consumer, we have no right to transparency into the inner workings of a corporation. As a fan, who are you to demand to see the evidence? If Wal-mart has an employee issue, should they be forced to plaster it all over their walls? Some of you think you are more important than you really are and need to wait until a final ruling before casting stones in either direction. You will never hear the whole story from either party, especially if one of those parties is a union.

  20. dolphins4 says: Oct 20, 2012 10:29 AM

    Accept the fact that you did the crime and got caught and pay the punishment for the crime and shut up and quit fighting the punishment when everyone knows you committed the crime.

  21. uglynora says: Oct 20, 2012 10:29 AM

    Complain about Vilma and the Saints all you want. Unfortunately, this is the ONLY way to get a fair shake where the NFL is concerned. Goodell has always only been interested in presenting the appearance of fairness and not actual fairness. If this was a fair process, it would have been resolved months ago, one way or another. And if you think I’m wrong tell me how the next three issues are fair:
    - The lineman for the Jets laid a ‘legal’ albeit questionable hit on Brian Cushing and got fined $25k.
    - The Cowboys and Redskins lost money and draft picks for violating a salary cap that never existed last year.
    - The Redskins took a measured approach to RG3′s injury and do the NFL required tests to determine the extent of his injuries. As such, they didn’t announce the concussion until after the game, (less than one full quarter later) and were just fined $20k for ‘trying to hide the concussion’.
    Tell me where fair is in the NFL smart guys.

  22. mwindle1973 says: Oct 20, 2012 10:30 AM

    What do they want? An NFLPA official to hear the appeal? A player maybe? So now it has to be someone with no current or former associations with the NFL?

  23. easydog100 says: Oct 20, 2012 10:32 AM

    Vilma has done more to discredit his own version of the “story”…. I frankly hope the penalty sticks.

  24. vman0626 says: Oct 20, 2012 10:40 AM

    i used to be a police officer. in over 2000 arrests only ONE time did a suspect ever admit absolute guilt to me, and that was someone i knew from high school who admitted to a b&e due to drug use. people simply refuse to admit their guilt when caught. it’s as simple as that.

  25. namelessfacelessfan says: Oct 20, 2012 10:42 AM

    The hubris of the NFL is mind blowing.

    If Goodell wanted to ensure fair due process he could have chosen any number of highly respected retired federal judges who could impartially examine the evidence on it’s merit alone.

    Instead, who does he choose to be ‘impartial’?
    A man who collects a pension from the NFL.
    A man who is a partner in the law firm that represents the NFL in all matters including the bounty case.
    A man who, and this is the kicker, represents Goodell HIMSELF in the lawsuit brought by Vilma!
    If Tags ruled against Goodell he’d be ruling against his own client.
    Do you honestly think thats going to happen?

    It’s a sham.

    What if Vilma said he wanted HIS lawyer to be the ‘impartial’ arbitrator?!

    How ludicrous does that sound?

  26. mackie66 says: Oct 20, 2012 10:46 AM

    Well, I dont blame Vilma one bit. First and formost there is not one shred of evidence to link Vilma with anything except being a memember of the Saints football team. Tags, being another failed commish is being brought in for appearences and nothing else. Ginger Goodell knows what he wants to happen and now Tags is his patsey. Tags will simply state what Ginger wants stated. If I was an NFL owner and has seen, first hand, what this fiasco has done to the Saints football team, id be looking over my shoulder for a new commish. One with some common sense and a working knowledge of what is and is not evidence. Tom Bensen/Saints have lost this season.

  27. cwwgk says: Oct 20, 2012 10:47 AM

    Ginsberg’s gonna run out of people to complain about. He’s mastered the ploy of accusing others of impropriety. So much so that Ginsberg’s law license in a Florida District Court is suspended for five years and was fined $250,000 by the federal judiciary. He accused a federal judge of being biased against his client. The Court found the accusations to be so meritless it imposed such draconian sanctions. Ginsberg appealed. His suspension and quarter million dollar fine were upheld by the federal appellate court.

    I agree that the players have to be able to cross-examine Williams and Cerullo. But Ginsberg is already claiming he won’t be allowed to despite the fact the parameters of the appeal hearing haven’t even been established. He’s also expressing concerns about Tagliabue and all the man has done so far is agree to hear the appeals.

    According to Ginsberg, his clients never get a fair shake. So he’s asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review D.J. Williams’ case. Somehow Mr. Williams’ due process rights were violated when the NFL suspended him for submitting a non-human urine sample during a drug test.

    When is Ginsberg going to realize the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf routine doesn’t work?

  28. turtlehut says: Oct 20, 2012 10:51 AM

    Vilma wants only Drew Brees to arbitrate

  29. bigbluefan1 says: Oct 20, 2012 10:58 AM

    Trutlehut beat me to it

    Here is a fact your employer said your out for a year if you do not like it go get another job.

    I am sure with all the Bars in NO he could get a job working the door as a bouncer.

  30. coltzfan166 says: Oct 20, 2012 11:09 AM

    “We now need to know whether Tagliabue plans to provide the fundamental right that Goodell ignored.”

    In other words, if he sides with the players, he’s providing the fundamental rights. If not, than it was an unfair hearing.

  31. brenenostler says: Oct 20, 2012 11:17 AM

    Ginsberg, your client chose not to participate in the afternoon part of the hearing when all the evidence was shown. He was given a fair chance to see the evidence.

  32. flipx99 says: Oct 20, 2012 11:17 AM

    mwindle1973 says:Oct 20, 2012 10:30 AM

    What do they want? An NFLPA official to hear the appeal? A player maybe? So now it has to be someone with no current or former associations with the NFL?

    ____________________________

    Did you miss the part where Tag’s law firm is actually representing the NFL in the federal bounty case and Goodell in Vilma’s defamation case? I don’t think he is being too picky if he decides that he would prefer that the “neutral” arbitrator not have an obvious conflict of interest.

  33. thelastpieceofcheese says: Oct 20, 2012 11:24 AM

    Vilma’s ambulance chasing lawyer will not be happy until he gets Vilma as arbitrator.

  34. beeronthefridge says: Oct 20, 2012 11:28 AM

    Why hasn’t Vilma – or any of his conspirators – volunteered to take a lie detector test?

    What are they afraid of?

  35. christopher525 says: Oct 20, 2012 11:32 AM

    “We don’t think that Tagliabue will let us walk free either, so we want someone else.”

  36. cliffordc05 says: Oct 20, 2012 11:44 AM

    This process keeps being compared to a ‘court of law’. It is not a court of law. These are employees being disciplined by their employer and the process should be compared to other employer-employee disputes. The fact that these highly paid employees and their union have threatened a lawsuit and involved lawyers in the process still does not make this a judicial proceeding.

    Does anyone think that the players will not take this to court no matter who makes the decision unless the players are completely vindicated. Every statement from the players or their lawyers should be viewed in the context of an appeal and not the reality.

  37. thejuddstir says: Oct 20, 2012 11:53 AM

    Vilma is going to play Sunday…….wouldn’t it be fitting if he were “carted off” during the game and watch some Bucs player pretend like he’s taking money off a roll of bills and giving it to his teammate.

  38. daaabears says: Oct 20, 2012 11:56 AM

    sampulls says:
    Oct 20, 2012 9:32 AM
    The fair arbitrator would be drew brees.

    Now that’s funny.

  39. larryjames836 says: Oct 20, 2012 12:04 PM

    I’m glad Vilma has his own lawyer and that’s good, he has a good lawyer that is keeping his eyes on Roger Goodell and company. See Roger Goodell is a snake making to many turns he not fair and he sure not honest, he just trying to cover his butt. And still don’t want to do the right thang, trying to out smart everyone not going to work Roger Goodell they want a honest trial with evidences and witnesses what part of this you can’t understand. So they can move on the truth must be told so let be real about the whole deal.

  40. dr45acp says: Oct 20, 2012 12:32 PM

    So Reggie White had a bounty program.The NFL allowed this to happen and ESPN acutally had a feature with Andrea Kremer reporting on this. So why wasn’t White suspended for his actions? Double standard applies here. Just like MLB had no idea that steroids were being used… Baseball was on the way out & owners had to do something to get it back so ppl would tune in….Homeruns out the wazoo is what you got got attendence & viewership went through the roof…reality check would be in order here….lots of folks suffering from rectal crainial inversion…

  41. stoptrippn says: Oct 20, 2012 12:46 PM

    He’s still being paid by the owners in retirement. It will not be fair

  42. biggestsaintsfanever says: Oct 20, 2012 1:14 PM

    beeronthefridge says:Oct 20, 2012 11:28 AM

    Why hasn’t Vilma – or any of his conspirators – volunteered to take a lie detector test?

    What are they afraid of?
    ————————————————————-

    What JV has done is ask RG to be deposed in federal court as to his actions, and RG is fighting it every step. Who’s the one hiding now?

  43. Andre's Johnson says: Oct 20, 2012 1:21 PM

    I have concerns about Vilma paying his teammates ten thousand dollars to hurt the opposing quarterback.

  44. miles58a says: Oct 20, 2012 1:33 PM

    brenenostler says:
    Oct 20, 2012 11:17 AM
    Ginsberg, your client chose not to participate in the afternoon part of the hearing when all the evidence was shown. He was given a fair chance to see the evidence

    ___________________________________

    You’re a little late all that evidence got proven to be wrong and not even being used anymore. Goodell went from having 50,000 pages to using a Greg Williams statement from after the players were suspended and the player’s statements from their meeting with Goodell

  45. miles58a says: Oct 20, 2012 1:37 PM

    coltzfan166 says:
    Oct 20, 2012 11:09 AM
    “We now need to know whether Tagliabue plans to provide the fundamental right that Goodell ignored.”

    In other words, if he sides with the players, he’s providing the fundamental rights. If not, than it was an unfair hearing.

    ___________________________________

    It will be unfair only if Tagliabue says yea y’all are guilty but y’all can’t question anyone or see any evidence that y’all are guilty

  46. bobothegreatest says: Oct 20, 2012 1:48 PM

    Vilma’s lawyer say this is absurd. Vilma believes that the only way he could get a fair shake is if Pete Rozelle handles the case.

  47. mdd913 says: Oct 20, 2012 2:33 PM

    You know what amazes me? That the majority of commenters here seem to be so savagely against these players actually getting a fair shake.

    What is wrong with you all? Do you actually want to live in a world like that?

  48. realfann says: Oct 20, 2012 3:29 PM

    @mdd913

    Makes you wonder why they are commenting here.

    Also makes you wonder when for the majority of them, this is the ONLY topic that they visit.

    Personally, I think like during the players lockout, the league is trying to stack the deck here.

  49. loudog777 says: Oct 20, 2012 4:14 PM

    I have always felt the NFL was holding back all the hard core evidence to save the players and league a huge black eye. I hope they get tired of this pathetic dance by Vilma and company and just unload everything on them and put this behind them. At this point, I would almost rather hear more Brett Favre retirement speculation.

  50. hoodatnva says: Oct 20, 2012 6:44 PM

    dolphins4 says:
    Oct 20, 2012 10:29 AM
    Accept the fact that you did the crime and got caught and pay the punishment for the crime and shut up and quit fighting the punishment when everyone knows you committed the crime.
    ———-
    That’s some pretty stupid myopic H.S. that you wouldn’t accept as a fan of your team. They were never caught! The whole GD thing was manufactured by a fired employee. Only a moron make that nexus of accused/must be guilty without proof!

  51. hoodatnva says: Oct 20, 2012 6:54 PM

    thejuddstir says:
    Oct 20, 2012 11:53 AM
    Vilma is going to play Sunday…….wouldn’t it be fitting if he were “carted off” during the game and watch some Bucs player pretend like he’s taking money off a roll of bills and giving it to his teammate.
    +++++++++
    You are one the dipsy doodles out there that don’t even know what the terms mean, and have clamored onto a statement which you THINK you know what it means, but doesn’t mean the same on the street as it does on a football field. “Carted off” means change of direction. “Whack” means hit between waist and knees. Cart off — taken off your “Cart”esian heading — change of direction, off course. “Whack” “W”aist & “K”nees. WAK. Morons.

  52. dretwann says: Oct 20, 2012 9:21 PM

    I won’t say it a clear case of whitewashing, but it doesn’t look entirely on the up and up. It is like getting my dad to be the abitrator in a case between me and my neighbor. Meanwhile my dad is also serving as a member of my legal team in 2 separate cases I have running in court against the same neighbor. No one in their right mind would argue that this is fair or impartial in the slightest. I agree, Tags 1st few moves will be key.

  53. hoodatnva says: Oct 21, 2012 10:36 PM

    beeronthefridge says:
    Oct 20, 2012 11:28 AM
    Why hasn’t Vilma – or any of his conspirators – volunteered to take a lie detector test?

    What are they afraid of?

    ++++++++++++++

    They have, all of them, but were denied. NFL didn’t want to hear the truth.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!