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League’s offer to Vilma may implicitly concede Tagliabue’s conflict of interest

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On Sunday morning, details were incomplete regarding the offer made by the NFL to settle the bounty suspensions short of a decision from former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

The story from ESPN has since been updated to reflect the terms offered to Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma.  According to Ed Werder of ESPN, the league offered to let Tagliabue determine Vilma’s suspension, in exchange for Vilma dropping his defamation lawsuit against Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The offer was promptly rejected, as it should have been.  Tagliabue already will be determining Vilma’s suspension even without the dismissal of his defamation lawsuit.  So what’s the point of even making the offer?

Arguably, the league’s offer implicitly concedes that Tagliabue currently has a conflict of interest.  If Tagliabue exonerates Vilma, the defamation lawsuit would get stronger.  Which would mean that a member of the law firm that represents the NFL will have made a decision that creates potential civil liability for the man who runs the NFL.  Which would result in liability for the NFL, which surely is picking up the tag for any judgment entered against Goodell.

By clearing away the defamation lawsuit, Tagliabue would be free to conclude that Goodell got it wrong, without the unpleasant reality of putting Goodell and the league in the cross hairs of a significant monetary judgment.

The offer also overlooks the potential argument that, no matter what Tagliabue decides, Vilma’s punishment can’t extend beyond the 2012 season, given the plain terms of his second suspension letter.  Agreeing to let Tagliabue set the punishment would potentially amount to agreeing to let Tagliabue extend a suspension into 2013.

Regardless, the offer was rejected and a decision from Tagliabue is expected tomorrow.  And then the ensuing litigation may extend into 2013.

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40 Responses to “League’s offer to Vilma may implicitly concede Tagliabue’s conflict of interest”
  1. myroncopesflask says: Dec 10, 2012 8:20 AM

    It is very hard to understand why the league is having such a hard time letting this go. If an idiot like me can see there is no way for the NFL to come out of this situation smelling like roses why can’t the league. If the commish would just let this investigation go I bet Vilma would drop his lawsuit and the league would avoid having the childish actions of their commish exposed in court.

  2. rg3isvictory says: Dec 10, 2012 8:39 AM

    I’m glad that Vilma stood up for himself and fought these ridiculous claims from the beginning. It should remind the majority of NFL personnel and more importantly, the sheep that comment on this site that, just because the media or Goodell is saying you broke the rules, doesn’t mean things went down that way. Goodell essentially took a season away from a franchise and has done everything he could to vilify them in an attempt to win his court battle against the former players. I’m going to leave the many sheeple with this quote,
    “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Mark Twain

  3. edhochuli says: Dec 10, 2012 8:51 AM

    Why shouldn’t the suspension be allowed to carry over into next season? Vilma obviously took advantage of a loop hole to play most of the season he was supposed to be suspended for.

  4. cwwgk says: Dec 10, 2012 8:52 AM

    Settlement discussions virtually always continue during trial or administrative hearings. It’s the nature of the beast. This is no exception.

    Trying to read anything into offers made by one party that are rejected by another is a futile effort. That’s why pre-trial settlement discussions are inadmissible.

    Judge Berrigan strongly urged the parties to continue to explore a settlement. The NFL complied. But any agreement has to include a final resolution of all litigation. Including the defamation case and the previous appeals to Judge Berrigan. Otherwise, what’s the point of settling? Either everything’s resolved or it’s not.

    The NFL’s offer was nothing more than that. Vilma and the others have motions pending before Judge Berrigan which include arguments about Tagliabue. Those arguments, and all others, would have to be abandoned for the case to settle. Nothing out of the ordinary.

    Both sides have drawn lines on the sand. Fair enough. We’ll see what happens.

  5. kattykathy says: Dec 10, 2012 8:55 AM

    Tags has the opportunity to get this right and do what the vast majority in America feels is right…….rule that the Saints did no wrongdoing.

    If Tags rules against the players, and supports the sham investigation, and bogus allegations , then Judge Berrigan will get it right

  6. cubano76 says: Dec 10, 2012 8:59 AM

    Whoever is lying needs to be suspended for a very long time. Just for the simple fact that we the fans have had to listen/read about this for so long. Nail the liar! (Whoever it is!)

  7. maverick2560 says: Dec 10, 2012 9:02 AM

    This offer by Mr. Tagliabue is somewhat troubling, however, it is in keeping with recent NFL behavior. The league clearly violated its fiduciary duty to bargain in good faith on behalf of the NFLPA when it secretly re-negotiated the television deals in order to fund the lock out.
    The league then secretly instructed the owners to not exceed a salary cap that really wasn’t in place. ( while ignoring those teams who failed to spend a minimum amount) . Now they add a condition of settlement that seems to be clearly a conflict of interest . Is it possible that the NFL and/or Commissioner Goodell are getting bad legal advice or acting despite solid legal advice. One thing is certain…given the collusion lawsuit and this request regarding the defamation suit…..the NFL shoots first and then asks questions later. Sounds like the Rodger we know.

  8. uglynora says: Dec 10, 2012 9:19 AM

    Goodell is clearly on the ropes here. If this thing moves forward as it appears it will, not only does the league and Goodell need to worry about Vilma’s defamation lawsuit, but they will also need to worry about the lawsuits from the rest of the players and coaches that are sure to follow. Add to that, the fact that the league will no longer have carte blanche on issuing arbitrary rulings and we’ve got a pretty tangled web. This fiasco will affect the NFL for decades.

  9. kidbudi says: Dec 10, 2012 9:19 AM

    I know I am not the only one who thinks this, but it sure seems like the Saints players are going to win this which is impressive.

  10. omniusprime says: Dec 10, 2012 9:36 AM

    Tagliabue needs to punish cheater Vilma sternly or the NFL is nothing but a league of gun toting criminals and cheaters. The NFL needs to clean up it’s image and punishing cheater Vilma to the fullest is one small step towards accomplishing that necessary goal. The NFL needs to stand tall and not let cheater Vilma threaten it with some ambulance chasing corrupt lawyer.

    Punish Vilma into 2014!!!

  11. jbaxt says: Dec 10, 2012 9:44 AM

    No one cares! Stick to your job of sports, not your hobby of law.

  12. justintuckrule says: Dec 10, 2012 9:47 AM

    If the nfl is mishandling this bounty nonsense this bad, what makes you think they are protecting the game any better? With the crap
    Product we’re forced to watch lately, fans should be signing petitions to get rid of goodell

  13. macbull says: Dec 10, 2012 10:05 AM

    The Bounty Case that Roger Goodell and the NFL, chose to pursue needs to be litigated to the very end.

    If Vilma wins substantial monetary judgement from the NFL, either via litigation or settlement, it will prove that Goodell was absolutely wrong to pursue this case.

    I look at what Goodell’s Bounty case has done to the Saints in a year when they should have challenged for another Super Bowl and I wonder, what price does one place on that opportunity?

    An opportunity wasted, lost, due to a gross misjudgment by an NFL commissioner and his people, who hyped a situation in an attempt to flex their muscle.

    I wonder is the NFL owners get it yet?

  14. bgrab1 says: Dec 10, 2012 10:08 AM

    The league will not stand a chance in a court of law. Not one chance, their window closes with Tags ruling. They have had enough time to get this right but instead are more interested in covering their own lies than doing right by the falsely accused. The Saints are guilty of running a pay for performance pool (So is every team in the NFL) The punishment did not fit the crime because the NFL needed to look tough against violence in the game (Even if that so called violence was a fabricated lie) because the league is about to loose their you know what in the concussion law suits.
    This is damage control gone ugly. I just hope things dont get out of hand when Roger pays a visit to inner city New Orleans for the Super Bowl. He better call in the Military actually.

  15. hor2012 says: Dec 10, 2012 10:16 AM

    Ok, I said I wouldn’t post anything if it GW testified that Vilma put up money for a bounty program. I will go even further now. I won’t post anything again about this if GW stated that any money changed hands at all

  16. jchuber says: Dec 10, 2012 10:25 AM

    Hopefully, the bottom like will be that business entities like the NFL will be required to prove their cases via a court of law, and not some BS decision made by a hyprocritical boss, who doesn’t want to understand the word “justice”.

    He said/she said testimony “CRAP” (like the bounty case) should never be used to justify anyones punishment, and anyone accused has the right to face their accuress in a court of law ( as opposed to corporate BS).

  17. johnster67 says: Dec 10, 2012 10:36 AM

    Teh bigger issue, is if there is a finding that they Saints did no wrong, then what do they do about Payton, Williams, & Vitt. Each has had a monetary as well as public damage. The NFL is in a damned if they do, damned if they don’t situation. I dont’ see the difference in paying Ray Lewis big bucks under contract to level players and hurt players, vs what the Saints are accused of.

  18. ajb3313 says: Dec 10, 2012 10:51 AM

    At this point I don’t really care what the ultimate outcome is, I just want the story to go away.

  19. justsayin973 says: Dec 10, 2012 11:08 AM

    Was it a pay-for-pain or pay-for-performance program? That’s really the question here. Regardless of that answer, there’s a bigger issue Judge Ginger brought up that could potentially affect all 32 teams … Is the “conduct detrimental” clause in the CBA ambiguous & therefore unenforceable? If it’s determined that it is ambiguous & unenforceable, will the NFL have to return all fines collected under this clause? Will the NFL & NFLPA end up right back @ the bargaining table again?

  20. chattanola says: Dec 10, 2012 11:50 AM

    The Commisioner’s mistake is two-fold. First, was to make accusations public. Second, was to single out a few specific players for suspensions. This soap opera wouldn’t be dragging on were it not for the players individually fighting back.

    Hubris prevented Goodell from cutting his losses by simply making a magnanimous pronouncement that the administrators’ penalties would stand because they sanctioned prohibited activities, and that the players penalties would be rolled back with a stern warning that p4p programs would not be tolerated across the league.

    But his need to trump the NFLPA probably got the best of him. Now we have a royal mess.

    Power grab failure.

  21. ultimatesaintsfan says: Dec 10, 2012 12:06 PM

    I wonder if all these legal battles open the floodgates to a classaction lawsuit for saintsfans (ticketholders) . That Roger Goodell wrongfully accused saints players of these actions and that the actions he took defamed the names of those player accused as well as distracted the whole organization and torpedo’d the Saint’s season, thus not allowing the Saints organization to put a worthy product out for the fans.

    In otherwords can we the saints fans (ticketholders) find Goodell liable for tanking the Saint’s season?

  22. silentcount says: Dec 10, 2012 12:35 PM

    The bottom line is the punishment didn’t fit the crime. First and foremost, what the players do on the field is the main concern. What they supposedly say in a pre-game pep rally makes no difference, unless you record every team’s locker room tough talk and judge them all equally. Goodell over reacted by suspending the head coach, assistant coach and general manager, which had never been done before in the NFL, even for things that effected the outcome of the game. The focus has been on the player suspensions, but Sean Payton’s suspension was what needed to be fought, because of the effect it had on so many people who had nothing to do with Goodell’s bounty fabrication.

  23. ilovefoolsball says: Dec 10, 2012 12:47 PM

    I don’t see as many people championing the Great Goodell. I guess when things don’t go their way the cowards run away.

  24. mdd913 says: Dec 10, 2012 1:26 PM

    Fans of all NFL teams should be furious at Goodell for this. What he did effectively destroyed the league’s competitive balance.

    Look at it this way: Under Sean Payton the Saints have been a 13-3, 12-4 type of team. Suddenly without him they’re a 6-10 or 7-9 team. You’ve effectively neutered one of the league’s elite teams and its entire impact on the win-loss record of all the teams on its schedule. Combine that with the Seahawks fraudulent win over the Packers and you have an entire 2012 season that doesn’t reflect the true competitive balance of the league.

    If I were a fan of a team that missed the playoffs by one game this year I would be absolutely livid, because the chances they missed out because of one of these two factors is substantial. Especially in the NFC.

  25. kellij666 says: Dec 10, 2012 1:29 PM

    the reason the league is now in a “no win situation” is because Goodell put them there. His arrogance and ego persuaded him to try and make an example of some when there was not enough proof they did anything wrong. just because some little weasel of a coach (childress)
    “felt” there was a bounty on a qback (favre) does not make it so!!! the strategy for hitting favre that game is the same one i would have employed if i were the coach. if you hit a qback repeatedly, i don’t care how good he is, he’s gonna make mistakes. as i recall there was only 1 late hit penalty called. it’s the job of the officials to offficiate not Goodell’s. he didn’t like the outcome so he changed the overtime rule. now he wants to eliminate the kick off. a case can be made that he’s doing that, because without the second have kickoff in the superbowl where payton called an onsides kick and the saints recovered, they probably would not have won that game. just one more instance where he’s trying to make the saints pay. what an arrogant idiot.

  26. bucsnsincity says: Dec 10, 2012 2:23 PM

    I really don’t care who comes out on top, vilma or the nfl. The only thing I question is why vilma is the only one really fighting this… I haven’t heard anything from Payton and he actually served his suspension unlike vilma! Same goes for Williams.

  27. justsayin973 says: Dec 10, 2012 2:44 PM

    bucsnsincity …

    You’re not hearing anything from Payton or Williams b/c there isn’t a coach’s union & coach’s contracts are subject to Goodell’s final approval. Williams is suspended indefinitely & Goodell is the only person who can lift the suspension so he’s kinda really @ Goodell’s mercy. Payton has a different fight in that a year after he signed his contract extension, Goodell decided to throw it & hasn’t granted permission for Payton’s agent & the Saints to negotiate a new one. Imagine his wrath if either decided to fight Goodell in a courtroom!!

  28. FinFan68 says: Dec 10, 2012 3:01 PM

    justsayin973,
    That is not completely accurate but whatever. What about Benson? Jones/Snyder threatened to sue the league while they were claiming to be wronged by the cap penalties. What has Benson said about this? –“I have been made aware of the NFL’s findings relative to the “Bounty Rule” and how it relates to our club. I have offered and the NFL has received our full cooperation in their investigation. While the findings may be troubling, we look forward to putting this behind us and winning more championships in the future for our fans.” — He has not tried to fight the sanctions in any way. He has not tried to help Payton or Loomis or the players. Nothing. Why?

  29. jetnotjets says: Dec 10, 2012 3:20 PM

    Meanwhile Dan Snyder is watching with great anticipation as he sees how this case is shaping up in favor of the players. He has to be drooling over the increased chance of gaining more cap room to add to the RGIII supporting cast. The Saints case is just the beginning. If the shield loses this first one, there are may more to come. And if the NFL starts losing multiple suits with monetary settlements, then Goodell is gone. That would be a great day for the NFL fans.

  30. sb44champs says: Dec 10, 2012 3:31 PM

    FinFan68 says:
    Dec 10, 2012 3:01 PM
    justsayin973,
    That is not completely accurate but whatever. What about Benson? Jones/Snyder threatened to sue the league while they were claiming to be wronged by the cap penalties. What has Benson said about this? –”I have been made aware of the NFL’s findings relative to the “Bounty Rule” and how it relates to our club. I have offered and the NFL has received our full cooperation in their investigation. While the findings may be troubling, we look forward to putting this behind us and winning more championships in the future for our fans.” — He has not tried to fight the sanctions in any way. He has not tried to help Payton or Loomis or the players. Nothing. Why?
    =============================
    Actually, Benson flew into NY and had a meeting with the commish on August 14th and, of course, it didn’t make a difference as GODell’s ego probably got in the way..

  31. bgrab1 says: Dec 10, 2012 3:49 PM

    Benson may actually be working behind the scene on this. He is not a publicity seeking Dictator like Roger Goodell. Benson has hired his own investigator to look into these alleged charges against the Saints. Believe me it will be large when Benson does decide to act.

  32. bayouranch says: Dec 10, 2012 3:50 PM

    The NFL needs to admit that Goodell is a Bonehead and give the Saints and Players whatever they want to drop the lawsuit against him. The evidence is lacking. Here say is obviously what Goodell uses in his court. Take the job of deciding punishment away from the Fool that is Goodell

  33. FinFan68 says: Dec 10, 2012 4:21 PM

    @sb44champs,
    What was that meeting about? You assume he went to complain to Goodell and maybe he did. Did he say anything afterward? Nope. If he believes his team was wronged, why hasn’t he said anything? He has nothing to fear from Goodell and Payton/Loomis suspensions were finite and do not require reinstatement. Is it possible he was shown the “evidence”? I am not saying he was shown anything at all but I believe that Benson knows that something happened and has decided to not fight it. Who knows, maybe there are some damaging things that have not been released. He did hire his own investigator and as far as I know, nothing has come of it. Maybe there is some exonerating evidence but I would think that his players would like to have it. There is a reason that Benson is not fighting any of this. Fear of the commish is probably not it.

  34. snaxdsp says: Dec 10, 2012 5:33 PM

    Plain and simple…..if Goodell is found to have fabricated this whole ordeal, he should be removed from his position and himself banned from the NFL for conduct detrimental

  35. f4phantom9277 says: Dec 10, 2012 5:37 PM

    @FinFan68,

    You are wrong about Payton’s suspension as he does have to be re-instated by Goodell….he is eligible after serving his year and it is dependent upon his conduct during (not attending college games, not contacting, etc) the suspension. Never forget that Benson is in partnership with the other owners and has a huge stake in the league’s image also…..we have no idea what Benson knows as of yet. We do know that whatever his meeting with Goodell was about didn’t affect his loyalty to Payton and Loomis, nor his trust in them as Loomis was made GM of the Hornets also and he has openly said he would make Payton the highest paid coach upon his return……doesn’t sound much like Goodell intimidated Benson at all. More likely that Benson knows that keeping quiet about this and working on the inside will benefit the NFL more than confronting Goodell. Loomis may have more to say as this plays out with the wiretapping allegations that were thrown out during the media frenzy against the Saints.

  36. usmutts says: Dec 10, 2012 6:00 PM

    If Tagliabue upholds Goodell’s punishments, which are not based on credible evidence, I hope Vilma (or, perhaps, Judge Berrigan) file ethics complaints against Tabliabue for his obvious conflicts of interests in agreeing to serve as an “impartial” arbitrator where one party is, in actual fact, his own boss from whom he and his partners derive significant income. This guy needs to have his license suspended, no matter how he rules, for knowingly engaging in such a crass conflict of interest.

  37. bgrab1 says: Dec 10, 2012 6:03 PM

    Look Benson is the NFL. He wants to handle this matter in a way that is not reckless that will bring damage to the league ie owners which he is one of 32. This is why I believe he will do his work behind the scene unlike Mr. Goodell the attention seeking hound. Benson will be heard from but not until the court has ruled.

  38. FinFan68 says: Dec 10, 2012 7:43 PM

    f4phantom9277 says:
    Dec 10, 2012 5:37 PM
    @FinFan68,

    You are wrong about Payton’s suspension as he does have to be re-instated by Goodell….he is eligible after serving his year and it is dependent upon his conduct during (not attending college games, not contacting, etc) the suspension.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I didn’t realize he had to ask for reinstatement. I thought that was for GW only. I wasn’t trying to imply that Benson was happy with everything. The Benson stuff is purely speculation–on both sides. (Just like the whole bounty saga in general) I’m just saying that the sanctions seem a bit harsh and he hasn’t done anything as the owner. (Once the picks are gone you can’t get them back)

  39. f4phantom9277 says: Dec 10, 2012 8:27 PM

    @FinFan68,

    Payton must behave for Goodell, GW caved in to Goodell under pressure and with some animosity towards the Saints because people seem to forget that the Saints did not want him back before this sordid affair began….he was basically fired. GW knows that the only way he’ll ever coach again in the NFL (and he will…already 40% of the players across the league admit they would play for him now before the Bounty farce is totally exposed) is by admitting whatever Goodell wanted and he thought the Saints would take their lick and go with it. It hasn’t played out the way Goodell and GW thought it would. All the more reason I am proud of Vilma, Vitt, Brees, and the rest saying they were scapegoated.

  40. hor2012 says: Dec 11, 2012 1:29 PM

    justintuckrule

    I assuming by your posting name that you’re a giants fan. And, you’re in no position at all to jump on a moral high horse especially sense the giants all but posted on the internet you plan to go after the 49ers punt returner in the playoffs.

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