The bounty case is now over. Mostly.
Judge Helen G. Berrigan dismissed linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s defamation lawsuit against Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello announced the development on Twitter.
Goodell and the NFL had filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the Collective Bargaining Agreement prevents players from suing Goodell personally for claims of this nature. Judge Berrigan agreed with the league that, under federal law, Vilma could not sue Goodell directly, but that any remedies must be pursued under the CBA.
Vilma claimed that Goodell told lies about the player’s involvement in the bounty case. Even if the case had been permitted to proceed, Vilma would have been required to prove that Goodell knew that the information was false or that he acted with reckless disregard to whether the information was true of false, since Vilma is a public figure.
Vilma will have 30 days to file a notice of appeal.
Even if Vilma chooses not to continue the lawsuit, there are still a pair of loose ends in the bounty case. Saints coach Sean Payton and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will at some point apply for reinstatement. There’s no guarantee their requests will be granted.
Last month, all player suspensions were overturned by former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
UPDATE 7:20 p.m. ET: Vilma’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, tells PFT that Vilma is considering his options.