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.