He’s been hurt for the last two years, was caught in the middle of the league’s bounty investigation and had to take a nearly $5 million pay cut to stay.
But no one sounds happier to be with the Saints right now than linebacker Jonathan Vilma.
“Hey, I’m good on the money side. So it’s just about winning right now,” Vilma told Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “And, you know, we say that all the time. But I would like to believe that most of our team really believes that. That we’re a team. It’s not really about individuals, it’s not really about selfish, it’s just about winning.
“And I think that we kind of got a raw deal last year. It is what it is. And so we want to get back out there this year.”
Vilma has multiple motivations, but that “raw deal” is now over, and he can get on with football.
“I think we definitely have the intensity. And that just comes from being able to focus on football and what really matters instead of really focusing on other things,” Vilma said. “I think Sean [Payton] put it best when we had our first meeting. We’re not gonna let what happened fuel us. What’s gonna fuel us is our team, our intensity, our desire to win, our ability to go out there and win some games.”
That and a desire to show people he can still play, after watching his pay shrink from $6 million to $1.2 million. He still needs to prove he can play in a 3-4 defense (which remains to be seen), and that he can still run at 31 years old after two years coming back from a knee problem.
But of the many problems, motivation isn’t one.