Vilma files supplemental brief based on Goodell’s public comments

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Anyone who has ever watched any cop show on TV is aware of the Miranda warnings.  “Anything you say can and will be used against you,” the officer says after reminding the person under arrest that he/she has the right to remain silent.

The truth is that, in any type of litigation, anything any party to the case says in any setting can be used in court.

And so, with Commissioner Roger Goodell discussing the bounty case on Saturday, the lawyer representing Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has filed a new legal document arguing that Goodell’s comments prove that the suspension imposed against Vilma should be overturned.

PFT has obtained a copy of the new filing.

The argument under the heading “Goodell has admitted to yet another CBA violation” focuses on Goodell’s statement  that the league “has more evidence than it [has] revealed publicly so far” to support Vilma’s suspension.

“Goodell claims to have reviewed 50,000 pages of ‘evidence,’ but produced approximately 180 pages prior to the Appeal Hearing,” lawyer Peter Ginsberg writes.  “It is simply impossible that Goodell only considered the ‘evidence’ produced prior to the Appeal Hearing, both because the 180 pages do not come close to justifying any punishment and because it is humanly impossible to block out, and not consider, over 99 per cent of the information gathered.  Now, in light of the airing of the 180 pages, and the dearth of evidence provided, Goodell is publicly attempting to justify his actions based upon purported undisclosed evidence.”

It’s a point we’ve made once or twice here.  Goodell knows much more about the investigation than what was introduced at the June 18 appeal hearing.  So how can he set aside what he knows and make a decision based only on the documents produced to the players who have been suspended and introduced at the hearing?

Ginsberg also locks on to the subtle shift in emphasis from a full-blown bounty to a pay-for-performance system that rewards players who inflict injury via legal hits.  “Goodell has revised the allegation to be that the Saints engaged in a program that rewarded players for good, clean plays that did not involve designated specific opposing players for injury,” Ginsberg writes.

Finally, Vilma accuses the NFL of leaking to the media the settlement talks between the league and the player.  “Vilma entered into settlement discussions with the NFL in good faith,” Ginsberg writes.  “Vilma is well aware of, and has absolutely complied with, his obligations to safeguard the existence and substance of all such discussions, as have all of his representatives.  Media reporting of settlement discussions, attributed to ‘NFL sources,’ coming the day after the harsh and unfortunate comments from Goodell, some of which are identified above, reflect a long-standing media campaign by Goodell and the NFL in this matter.  Vilma respectfully requests the Court to make inquiry regarding the breach of the obligations to retain the confidentiality of settlement discussions.”

It’s unlikely that Judge Berrigan will do anything about the leak of the settlement talks.  Unless Werdscheftenson or Steve Wyche show up in the courtroom on Friday, she’ll be able to do nothing other than ask each side if they blabbed — and each side will deny doing so.

The broader point here is that Vilma apparently isn’t thinking about settling.  He’s thinking about winning.  And his lawyer is using everything at his disposal to get there.

42 responses to “Vilma files supplemental brief based on Goodell’s public comments

  1. really getting tired of this guy; if there wasn’t a bounty then why did Greg Williams so quickly apologize and take his lifetime ban?

  2. I’m actually starting to become a Vilma fan. Relentless in his attack of Goodell. It’s about time someone goes toe to toe with Goodell, and put the pressure on him. A little taste of his own medicine. The bully is getting bullied. How does it feel Goodell? Go Vilma! As of right now, Vilma can exert all of your resources and attention to this. Goodell can’t do the same, and it seems like it’s starting to takes it’s toll.

  3. Not sure if this is raised in the new filings but seems to me that Goodell’s recent public statements also essentially prove that his mind has at all times been fully made up and that no amount of “appealing” (or begging) from Vilma and the others during the NFL appeals process would have made a difference – in direct contradiction to arguments made to the court that its all the players’ fault for not “participating” in the appeal process as they should have. and that they have failed to exhaust their remedies.

  4. Correct me if I am wrong, but isnt it Goodell’s right to NOT reveal the evidence “publicly”?

    Until a Judge says otherwise, Roger can just send what he wants. Sucks but thats how it is and the Players Association signed on that dotted line.

  5. Maybe this is naive but there has to be a lot of fire to all the smoke Vilma an his reps have been putting out. This isn’t a drug or PED suspension where the player is shooting at a bunch of technicalities and hoping one hits. He knows he’s innocent and, if that’s the case, should fight it all the way to the end.

  6. All I can say is Vilma has one sharp lawyer working for him…

    …the NFL and Roger are acting as if they never heard of the American judicial system aka “the law”.

    For the NFL, they have acted as if this is a PR campaign of sorts…

    …Vilma and his lawyers are taking this very seriously.

  7. Good article! I like your review of legal matters.
    This whole thing is really making Goodell look pretty ridiculous as the days go by.

    I really just wish they would publish all the material and get on with it. Vilma is calling your bluff, time to show your hand.

  8. How does it matter how much additional “evidence” Goodell said that the NFL has in its files? Vilma did nothing to contest the minimal stuff presented, he walked out.

  9. What’s oddly funny is that Goodell is too arrogant to realize what a hole he and his minions are digging themselves into. He is singlehandedly making the CBA a non-issue in the federal court proceedings. Fight on Mr. Vilma, the truth will set you free!

  10. Goodell’s house of cards is falling apart. There are holes in everything he tries to produce as “evidence”, and he’s beginning to realize he’s losing the battle of public perception. So as to save face he offers up this lame reduction to show the public and interested parties that he’s “fair”. I hope that Vilma declines their offer and steamrolls Goodell into the ground.

  11. “Correct me if I am wrong, but isnt it Goodell’s right to NOT reveal the evidence “publicly”?”

    I can understand why the league, the commissioner, and some accusers would want this but why would ANY fan want this? Regardless of what team you root for, why would anyone NOT want to see the evidence in a dispute as hotly contested as this one?

  12. Vilma will win because he has nothing to hide. Goodell has a world of things to hide and much more to lose. He can’t afford letting the truth come out in court. People who’ve been supporting his abuse of power are in for a major let down.

  13. This isn’t going to end well for the Commish. Vilma’s committed to seeing this thing to the end. The status of his suspension is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter whether it’s lifted or not. – and that’s not the game here. Everybody knows that the league does what the league wants. This isn’t about the suspension, it’s about reputation. What will come of this, will be a complete and public airing of the failures of Roger Goodell and this process. That will happen because of Vilma’s commitment and his transparency. The irony is rich, for sure. And no matter how the league tries to spin it (and they’re clearly poking around for various spins which will “stick”), it will be lose. I applaud Vilma. When you mess with someone’s reputation you had better be ready for the consequences. The end of this process will forever dirty Goodell’s legacy. It’s one thing to be known as a benevolent dictator. It’s something completely else to be shown as a spineless liar waving the flag of honesty and accountability incapable of either when it counts, and whose patsy in Vilma is actually the person in all of this who is living by those values. This is something people don’t forget.

  14. If people don’t see by now what the Saints have been so angry from the beginning, you will forever be blind to the facts. Vilma has acted/been acting like an innocent man from day one. Goodell has been spinning and lying from day one. You guys still think the Saints deserved to have their organization slandered publicly in the way Goodell did it?

  15. It’s really a shame that Anthony Hargrove didn’t act as relentlessly, because he was victimized by EXACTLY what Vilma is trying to say.

    The only evidence that Goodell shared with Hargrove that he was guilty was the “Pay me my money” video. Hargrove publicly proved that he didn’t say that, and Goodell agreed with him. But Goodell still upheld his suspension because he was guilty of “other things” that he refused to share with Hargrove and was thus not allowed to refute?

    That is WRONG. Plain and simple.

  16. It seems Goodell is doing everything humanly possible to protect their source, which is admirable, but at what point does this come to an end. Interestingly, what if Goodell decides he can’t hide his source any longer would the NFLPA then protect the source?

  17. Goodell just comes off as a liar who will say whatever he thinks will make him look good today.

    The second best thing that could happen to the NFL would be for Vilma to win his lawsuit and limit Goodell’s power. The best thing of course would be getting rid of Goodell entirely.

  18. Nobody cares anymore except for Saints fans.

    Like most, I’ve lost all respect for Brees and the Saints.

  19. knowerofallthings says:Aug 6, 2012 3:28 PM

    really getting tired of this guy; if there wasn’t a bounty then why did Greg Williams so quickly apologize and take his lifetime ban?


    Why would this need to be explained for the 250,000 time?

    Read Joe Vitt’s affidavit. Williams and Payton have conditional reinstatement based on the commissioner. They as coaches do not have the protection of the CBA.

    They have no choice.

  20. @ NFL fan
    Let’s make something clear from the outset, Saints fans could care less about your “respect” for Brees or the Saints organization. Secondly, you can bet your sweet little behind that folks care, and care a lot! If a writer wants to get some attention, all he has to do is talk about the powerhouse Saints, you know that, NFL fans know that, and I know that, pal. And these are just the facts.

  21. On one side, nine current and former Saints employees who have sworn under threat of perjury that there was no pay-for-injury bounties.

    On the other side, a league trying to play Let’s Make a Deal before the judge rules and a disgruntled former coach named Mike Cerullo hiding in a hole somewhere.

    You make the call.

  22. “Nobody cares anymore except for Saints fans.

    Like most, I’ve lost all respect for Brees and the Saints.”

    Yes, as a Saints fan, of course I still care that Roger has slandered our good name, but you would love to have Bree’s on your favorite team. You would be a complete fool not to

  23. And of course, one more time so everyone can read it – GW admitted to pay-for-performance, NOT pay-for-injury. Actually read the statement and don’t just take Roger’s word for it.

  24. The only thing new about Vilma’s latest filing is the paper it was submitted on. The arguments it contains have already been briefed and argued to Judge Berrigan by Vilma’s lawyer.

    His hearing is over. What’s left is for the other players to argue their case. Then Judge Berrigan will rule on the league’s motions to dismiss. Even if the players survive this stage of the litigation it, by no means signals that they’ve won. To the contrary, the judge would have found the allegations set forth in the players’ complaints sufficient to proceed to a trial on the merits. That’s all.

    If anything, Vilma’s latest filing can easily be interpreted as a sign he’s concerned about the tide of the case still being against him. There’s really no good reason for submitting a post-hearing submission which essentially repeats all the arguments you already made at the hearing.

    Hardly a harbinger of doom for Goodell and the league.

  25. nfl fan says:Aug 6, 2012 4:46 PM

    Nobody cares anymore except for Saints fans.

    Like most, I’ve lost all respect for Brees and the Saints.


    This is not true at all. Read Stephanie Stradley’s blog. She’s a Texans fan (and an attorney) and explains very well why everyone should care.

    Also, the Saints players have a ton of support from other players. Most older players like Ed Reed will openly speak about supporting Vilma.

    As for fans, I would think I wouldn’t care so much if I wasn’t a Saints fan. I always thought Harrison got a raw deal, but since I wasn’t a Steelers fan I didn’t care too much. Oddly I used to think Goodell was a good commish. I started questioning him first when there were reports that he directed Vick to the Eagles. After this investigation, I’m fairly positive that he doesn’t have a problem abusing his power to get what he wants. This is a problem for a the whole league.

  26. northeastkiller says:

    “And of course, one more time so everyone can read it – GW admitted to pay-for-performance, NOT pay-for-injury.”

    Of course, the “performance” needed to result in a “cartoff”, which necessitates an “injury”.

    Only for a small percentage of the United States does this “wordsmithing” make any sense.

    sdisme says:

    “Read Joe Vitt’s affidavit. Williams and Payton have conditional reinstatement based on the commissioner. They as coaches do not have the protection of the CBA.”

    They also are not bound by the CBA – which actually means they have more grounds to fight their suspensions as they didn’t sign a CBA that states how these issues would be settled.

    What is a constant since the beginning of this issue has been the ongoing lies of the Saints – management, coaching staff and players.

    Sure would be nice if the Saints players would take their rightful punishments like Saints management and coaching staff have.

    jason1980 says:

    “If a writer wants to get some attention, all he has to do is talk about the powerhouse Saints, you know that, NFL fans know that, and I know that, pal.”

    To be a “powerhouse” a team would have to be able to win their division several years in succession AND go deep in the playoffs.

    The Saints have yet to win back to back division championships – much less go deep in the playoffs on a regular basis.

  27. Actually @Ebonyoro as much as I love Brees I can’t say that I would love to have him on my team because I sir am a Lions Fan who in no way shape or form would trade a guy that’s 24 yrs old and only a few years ( And no injuries of course ) away from being on Brees level for somebody that is no doubt a stud but close to the end of his career period..Matt Stafford is about 3 yrs away from being the best QB in the league yes I said it he will b neck and neck with ARod but by then Brady, and Peyton will b finished so mark my words and get ur Pop corn ready..

  28. Hey NFL fan, can you read? Most fans are now coming to realize the truth. The coaches bowed to the league because they have a WEAK union and were threatened with never being able to work again. The players, led by Vilma, have a recourse. The Saints have been accused of crimes they did not commit. They admitted to the same pay for performance system THAT ALL 32 TEAMS EMPLOYED. Nothing more. As Joe Vitt said, they’re being penalized for the spoken word not for ANY deeds.

    Go get ’em Vilma!!

  29. “Of course, the “performance” needed to result in a “cartoff”, which necessitates an “injury”.

    Only for a small percentage of the United States does this “wordsmithing” make any sense.”

    Not that the ledger that notes “cartoff” payments involves games that featured ZERO players actually being carted off, thus meaning that the Saints’ insistence that it doesn’t mean what you think is the right one. But then again, you actually have to read and not take Goodell’s word for everything.

  30. Vilma is a dipshyt!
    The commish , hired by all the owners to do the “dirty work” for the good of the league & game!
    Look at the circus of athletes! DUI’s every other day,
    Coke headed athletes, raping women in Bars, carrying guns like your walking through WATTS!!! Need I say more? We have all seen the arrest counter on this site!
    Goodells job, is much like the ast. Principle at a high school. All the kids hate the asst. principles because they are the authoritarians that suspend and give detention. But, it is a necessary position!
    You all, that give a thumbs up to the comments supporting Vilma, but the bottom line is , the saints took the heat! Maybe all teams did it @ one point. But an example had to be made, and if certains standards aren’t set now, (concussions & game safety ) there may not be a League in 10 years! So before you make rash & mindless comments about Goodell, 1st understand that he has helped elevate the NFL to a high standard & really has done a great job keeping the proverbial maniacs from running the asylum!

  31. C’mon Roger. You know you did it. You know you’ve been lying about it. You don’t need an explanation. Shut up and accept your punishment like a man so we can move on…..

    I said it in this forum five months ago. After this judge hands Mr. Goodell’s head to him, his days as Commissioner will be numbered. I predict he will be “stepping down to spend more time with his family” some time around March 2013.

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