NFL submits sworn statement from Goodell on March 21 issue

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The judge presiding over the bounty cases recently has focused on a specific factual contention from the NFL, and the NFL has now answered the judge’s question by producing a letter from the NFLPA along with a sworn statement from Commissioner Roger Goodell.

On Wednesday, Judge Helen G. Berrigan ordered the parties to identify by 12:00 p.m. on Friday, August 17 “the date on which the NFLPA requested that Goodell defer issuing discipline notices to the players rather than issuing them at the same time that he disciplined the coaches.”

In response, the NFL has submitted a March 7, 2012 letter from former NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen to NFL general counsel Jeff Pash requesting generally a 60-day delay in all disciplinary proceedings, for players and non-players alike.

Assessing the letter at the superficial level, the NFLPA technically never made a request that the discipline against the players be deferred; instead, the union wanted all discipline delayed.  Goodell explains in his sworn statement that the league nevertheless delayed announcing player discipline on March 21 in deference to the March 7 letter.

Goodell also explains that, despite a March 14 letter from Pash to the NFLPA explaining that there was no basis to delay the discipline “especially with regard to discipline of the club and non-player employees,” Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith agreed in subsequent talks by phone “to address first discipline of the club and then to afford the NFLPA a reasonable opportunity to conduct its own investigation and express its views before [Goodell] imposed discipline on the players.”

Though the judge didn’t explain the reason for her most recent order, it appears that the judge wants to confirm that such a request was actually made, since that would tend to bolster the representation from NFL counsel Gregg Levy at the August 10 hearing in the bounty cases that any statements made on March 21, the date on which the discipline of non-players was announced, about Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma reflected conclusions reached by Goodell as part of the official disciplinary process contemplated by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  If the truth is that Goodell hadn’t started the process of determining player penalties when publicly accusing Vilma and/or other players on March 21 of bounty-related wrongdoing, then Vilma’s argument that those comments can provide the foundation for a separate defamation lawsuit becomes stronger.

The NFL’s submission seems to clear things up appropriately, eliminating the impression that the process of disciplining players hadn’t commenced as of March 21.

That said, the NFLPA has yet to submit a response to the judge’s order, as far as we know.  It’ll be interesting to see what the union has to say — and more specifically whether Smith will acknowledge that he and Goodell reached an agreement before March 21 that the league would give the union a “reasonable opportunity” to conduct an investigation of its own before disciplining the players.

If Smith denies that point, then this one fairly specific fact could sprout even longer legs as the judge tries to craft her rulings.

56 responses to “NFL submits sworn statement from Goodell on March 21 issue

  1. Like I said before Goodell wasn’t about to do anything without having all his ducks in a row! Or Saints as it were. Pretty hard to beat the the commish!

  2. I’m sure DeSmith asked for the delay just as the league said, but it may not have been explicitly documented and thus hard to prove. It will be interesting if he tries to lie or deny it because by doing so they will have a stronger argument.

    What a moral dilema… potentially he could admit he asked for hit, which would hurt his case, but he could just deny it and add additional pressure against the league. Oh the drama!

  3. Letter from NFLPA dated March 7, 2012 – check

    Sworn statement from Roger Goodell – check

    End of Vilma’s bountygate lawsuit – check

    It will be interesting how the Saints fans/apologists/bobos deal with these cold hard facts…

    Vilma is wasting his and the NFLPA’s money if he doesn’t end this frivolous lawsuit.

    The only one who made out on this kawsuit is Vilma’s attorney Ginsberg.

  4. Ignore the letter which documents the lie, but trust me when I say that we agreed to something else on the phone. A phone call I assume wasn’t recorded with no legal written agreement that backs up the claim.

    Yeah, good luck with that. Sounds even flimsier than your bounty evidence that you claim is “overwhelming” but still refuse to share with anyone.

  5. Rediculous! Frickn witch hunt! I hope Vilma breaks a leg from being away from the game for a year! All they are trying to do is catch the league in a paperwork technicality! When Goodell seems to be to me the kind of guy that doesn’t make clerical errors!
    I cannot wait until the serious ramifications fall into place from the vast majority of you that don’t realize just how Goodell is for the game!
    Some of you see him as a Power hungry tyrant!
    When I truly believe he is the best person to handle a job that is the farthest thing from glamorous! Anyone without the backbone that he has, would seriously jeopardize the league from lawsuits & concussions! My 2 cents for the day!

  6. If Smith denies the point then he will come across as a liar willing to perjure himself. I doubt that even Jeff Kessler would recommend he go that far to carry on this lost fight.

  7. Goodell explains in his sworn statement that the league nevertheless delayed announcing player discipline on March 21 in deference to the March 7 letter.


    So this says that Goodell explains in his SWORN statement that the league nevertheless delayed announcing player discipline.

    This tells me that the discipline had already been decided, but he delayed announcing it.

    With that I disagree with Pappavike(go figure a vikings fan would want the worst stuff to happen to the Saints) and a bucs fan in bucrightoff.

    I think this says that Goodell had made up his mind, just delayed the announcement.

  8. Goodell and Pash vs. De/Kessler/Vilma in a battle of wits and procedural Mumbo Jumbo.

    I know where I’m putting my bets…and I can’t see Vilma on the field this year.

  9. His letter to the NFLPA may prove Roger is lying under oath. Plus his own statement after march 21 that the investigation is on going. Roger may be going to jail if the NFLPA does net confirm the phone calls.

  10. It’ll be interesting to learn of why Judge Berrigan finds this issue important. I don’t see why it would factor into the defamation case. According to her comments from the bench, she agrees the Saints ran a bounty program. Truth is an absolute defense to a defamation claim. As such, it wouldn’t seem to matter when Goodell first made the allegation because Judge Berrigan finds it to be true.

  11. Nothing is certain. Even after a decision is made (regardless of whom it favors), there will be appeals. Neither party will back down until every resource has been exhausted.

  12. Totally Agree prplpuzzetrz! Love the screen name by the way!
    These clowns have no idea what be brings to the table……
    Seriously, can you imagine the Madness that would be the current NFL, without Roger??? With Twitter & social media as it stands today?
    Certainly not a role for the faint of Heart.
    Prpl, I think I Heart you!
    Keep skoling my Brother!
    Do you know how dumb some of the guys are?? They actually thought that the HuLk hogan screen name & the Rock screen name are actually them!!!’ dude said, with all the wrestlers that are in here now, they should put their input in here on the refs! Lol, what a bunch of dips!

  13. If the NFLPA requested that all discipline be delayed for players and non-players, then yes they did request that player discipline be delayed. Besides, I don’t think that the Players Association represents non-players. They wouldn’t have any business requesting that discipline for people they have no business relationship with should be delayed. That wouldn’t make any sense. See ya around, Jonathon.

  14. Get lost Vilma. “Do your job” and follow the lead of your head coach who took the punishment like a grown man.

  15. Didn’t he say at the owners meeting on Jon Vilma.

    “I haven’t focusd on it. As I said, I like before I make any decision to hear from the players.”

  16. So…Goodell says the document shows that the NFLPA wanted 60 days on March 7, so he waited until May 2 for the final verdict.

    March 7-May 2 is 56 days

    But yeah, this phone call happened.

  17. saintsfan1111 says:
    Aug 16, 2012 5:52 PM
    Goodell could have just called Benson and said cut it out for real, or we will nail you to the wall.

    He did. The league asked the Saints to cut it out. What do you want him to say? “Yes, next time we will nail you for sure. Starting … now. No, … now. No, … now”.
    The Saints have been warned about this and they continued doing it. This is why they have been nailed. If they would’ve stopped after being warned, like others did, we would be having this conversation now and for the last what-feels-like 10 years

  18. To be perfectly honest most Saits fans aren’t that concerned with Vilma playing this year with the way Curtis Lofton looks. This is more about proving what a foolish dictator Godell has become.
    He really is a despicable human being.

  19. It must suck to be a Saints fan and have to read article after article about this stuff. I bet they can’t wait for the season to start.

  20. De Smith told the public that he asked for time for the NFLPA to investigate, then proceeded to complain about the NFL not producing evidence the whole time.

    I think that Berrigan stating that pay for play is still a bounty system is huge. That should eliminate the defamation because Vilma in his numerous flip-flops stated that he was part of a pay for play system.

    Regarding the bounties being part of a cap issue, who cares. Bounties are against the CBA. Even if you take that and make it go to Burbank, Goodell has all of the dead to rights with regards to lying to the league about being part of the system (when they initially denied it), and when they didn’t stop when they were initially told to cease and desist.

    By the way, all of the parts I just mentioned were confirmed by the team and the players. They admitted that they were part of a pay for play system after saying that there was no system in place. And it was admitted by the coaches and team officials that the system was still in place, and then the players verified that they were still participating in it.

    Why are we still talking about this?

  21. March 14th – Vilma offered to meet with Goodell.

    March 21st – Organization and Coaches punished

    March 30th – NFL request to interview Vilma

    April 2nd – Vilma accepts if NFL provides materials gathered to prepare for and understand the scope of the interview, also he was willing to share his knowledge regarding the PFP program

    April 5th – NFL denies request

    SO, Why should Vilma meet with Goodell if he had already decided the punishments for the players by March 21st.?. Wouldnt that be predetermined judgement prior to hearing Vilma’s side?

    Not sure what I am missing here..

  22. So Goodell submitted one sworn statement about timing and no credible evidence. Remember the video that got ripped apart within minutes of being released? Remember Mary Jo White, the crack lawyer Goodell paid claiming that Hargrove’s statement proved the existence of a bounty program and his involvement in it, when it did no such thing?

    Saints have submitted four sworn statements stating there was no bounty program. The confessions by the coaches are for pay-for-performance, not pay-for-injury.

    The haters have their agenda, and they aren’t going to let the facts get in their way.

  23. There’s video out there of an April interview on the NFL Network where he’s talking about “continuing dialogue” and “having further conversations” with players.

  24. saintsfan1111 says: Aug 16, 2012 5:52 PM

    Goodell could have just called Benson and said cut it out for real, or we will nail you to the wall.

    No, he did all this instead. What a fool.

    Except the Saints WERE warned during the bounty period. Just like the Packers with their pay-for-performance scheme. The league said “stop this now.” The Packers stopped it. The Saints just kept on going and tried to cover it up.

    And now you’re crying because they got caught and punished. Poor little Saints fan.

  25. what happened to the loser saint fans here yesterday. they thought vilma had it wrapped up. goodbye vilma.

  26. Does anyone really believe that Roger Goodell is going to do something that is has not been carefully planned out.
    Like it or not, Goodell is the best thing to happen to the NFL. Super intelligent guy with great vision. The only people that do not like him are the ones that receive his discipline.

  27. So on March 14 the league sends a letter stating they will not wait to issue discipline.

    On March 26 at the owners meeting Goodell says: As I said, I like before I make any decisions to hear from the players. I obviously listen to them and respect their opinion and I would like to hear from the NFLPA before making any decisions


    he’s still investigating the situation to determine proper punishment.

    In April Anthony Hargrove submits a statement and he was punished based on that statement


    Goodell tells Rich Eisen in regards to player punishment:
    That he wants to understand what is going on, his initial focus was on the coaches

    —Ok either he told the truth in his declaration or every other time he spoke (and the Hargrove thing is a bad dream)

    But he can’t have it both ways

  28. But they stopped. There is no evidence, not even circumstantial that they did anything pay for performance outside two games in the 2009 playoffs. The only thing since then is a ledger that was proven to be a lie by the NFL. The other was audio of GWilliams, and while it was hard to listen to, it is not evidence, proof or anything. Show me they didn’t stop after 2009 when asked.

    On top of all that, all Saints fans want, is everyone who crucified us in March to admit that maybe the NFL lied a little to them to try and railroad their agenda. Everything else is a wash, and I don’t care. But it hurt more than anything to see a whole league of fans viciously condemn a whole organization/fanbase based on a liar’s ‘leaked’ ‘facts’ that turned out to be absolute bold faced lies. We just want vindication.

  29. As most rational people have observed, the judge has also noted that Goodell’s system has not been fair. This, along with the evidence that “borders on ridiculous” is why she wants to rule in Vilma’s favor. She would prefer that this get settled outside of court, and she wants to motivate Goodell to do so. Benson also provided extra motivation when he showed Goodell the results of his independent investigation by the FBI guy. It’s obvious that the only ones eagerly supporting Goodell now are the fans of other teams wanting a better chance to beat the Saints. That seems kind of chumpish.

  30. If the statement Goodell released doesn’t ask for a delay for the players specifically, he hasn’t proven a thing besides he can’t prove a thing.

    Anyone smell pants burning?

    And as someone said announcing and deciding are two seperate things. Of course you can’t announce something if you haven’t already decided it.

  31. jcbadger34: Saints got warned and lied about a pay-for-performance and deserved some punishment. The NFL just hasn’t shown anything that approaches realistic evidence of a bounty program.

  32. silentcount says:
    Aug 16, 2012 6:44 PM
    As most rational people have observed, the judge has also noted that Goodell’s system has not been fair.

    It’s the system NFLPA agreed on. So have the players whine to/about their NFLPA rep and NFLPA in general.
    They are the ones who gave Goodell the powers now they whine he is using.
    And did the FBI guy finish his investigation already?

  33. Here’s a re-cap for those of you that can’t follow.

    Goodell came out in early March and said, basically, that the players and coaches were guilty and would be punished.

    The NFL players association asked Goodell on March 7 to wait for them to do their own investigation. Goodell would not share evidence or agree to wait, but, he waits almost 60 days anyway before announcing player punishments.

    During the 60 days, he mentions in the press a few times and at an owners meeting that he knows that players will be punished, but that he still wants to meet with them before announcing punishments.

    Also during that 60 days, Vilma, in particular, says he will gladly meet with the commissioner so long as the commissioner will share what evidence he has so that Vilma can have a chance to explain his position. The commissioner will not provide any evidence. So, Vilma refuses to meet.

    The coaches all meet with Goodell at the appeals hearing, all deny the bounty program, and get hammered by Goodell anyway. Vilma, seeing that the coaches stood no chance, seeing that the NFL won’t even wait the full 72 hour window after providing evidence, and even then seeing that it only provided a very, very small portion of the evidence…well, Vilma decides to file a lawsuit.

    I do not fully understand why the judge wants this information. It is clear from multiple interviews that Goodell had decided in advance of announcing the punishments that the players were guilty. It was a HUGE deal when he announced the program. So, to me, Vilma’s notion that the commissioner had made his mind up about guilt/innocence in advance of the appeal has some merit. However, it also seems clear that Goodell, for whatever reason, still wanted to talk to the players before handing out the punishments.

    As I see it, Goodell wanted to give them zero evidence, but call them into his office and have them admit to the bounties and throw themselves at the feet of the commish and ask for mercy. He wanted to leave a window open to lessen the punishments if someone would admit to guilt. Getting an admission of guilt would be the last part of his “investigation” and that’s why he wanted to talk to the players (but not give out any evidence). He want’s looking for an explanation; he was looking for a confession. So, the investigation did continue, although his mind was already made up as to guilt and innocence. Vilma decided not to participate in what he saw as a sham investigation and appeals system.

  34. “Goodell seems to be to me the kind of guy that doesn’t make clerical errors!”

    Really? They have made several. My personal fav getting the year wrong on Fujita’s discipline letter.

  35. While the letters/correspondence evidence represents what appears to be enough to convince the judge that Goodell did not act beyond his authority on March 21st, I am surprised at how many of you buy into his self-serving affidavit as being legitimate evidence. Slf-serving affidavits like that are hardly definitive or sufficient proof of any fact a party is trying to prove, or disprove. They predictably always say or arrive at a conclusion at which the party offering the affidavit as evidence wants it to arrive or say. The affidavit doesn’t “prove” anything.

  36. Goodell meeting with the players before punishment is handed down is a courtesy, not a CBA mandated hearing like an appeal. Goodell waiting to announce player punishment- so the PA could conduct their own “investigation”- was a courtesy.

    If the players don’t like it, they have to put up with it for 9 more years, and then can negotiate to change the process.

  37. @genericuser8888

    Couldn’t another reason he did not wish to grant Vilma’s request to see the evidence be that he did not want to release information about a whistle blower?

    I’m not saying that’s certainly the case, but it strikes me as entirely reasonable. What about you?

  38. …technically never made a request that the discipline against the players be deferred; instead, the union wanted all discipline delayed…

    Very shrewd move, go for the delay not the deferral. I wonder if they gave “forestall” or”put-off” or “more time” serious consideration…brilliant work though…

  39. The judge could care less if its settled out of court. She hasnt ruled in favor of vilma despite really wanting to because there no way it, and she knows that. Thats why this very minor issue of march 21st is brought to light. Shes looking for any flimsy or otherwise excuse to rule for vilma. Once it goes to appeals, that judge will do what any judge SHOULD do here, laugh in vilmas face. The NFL’s way of discipline is not fair, but the players agreed to it. Its very hard to get around that fact.

  40. @trseann

    –The name of the whistleblower was leaked to the press months ago. If I remember correctly, some of Vilma’s legal documents even reference the guy’s name because he is on the list of witnesses Vilma asked the NFL to provide at the appeal. In other words, there was no one left to protect. However, even if the name was known publically, the NFL may be obligated by federal law not to release or confirm his name under whistleblower protections. Still, the NFL could have provided information to Vilma without releasing the name.

  41. @trseann

    There’s this really nifty thing they can do in a situation like that…it’s called redacting. And yes, the NFL knows all about, because they’ve used it in this case already. So not giving up evidence to protect a whistleblower is a non-starter as an excuse.

  42. And to the guys saying “this is the deal the players agreed to”, you can stop that at any time. This is the deal the players were FORCED to accept. Goodell and company FLAT OUT REFUSED to budge on ANY of his power. For them to not accept the deal would have meant no football last season.

    SO what do you do? Do you take a deal you don’t agree with and don’t want so you can get paid, or do you fight the righteous fight and put your self in the poor house?

  43. Hey prplpuzzetrz your right it is a witch hunt its a witch hunt by goodell, so what make you so knowledgable about what happen with the SAINTS? How many SAINTS games did you watch during the so called bounty period? Probably none except the games when the SAINTS were kicking your teams ass. Let me informed you that most SAINTS FANS watched every game and we didn’t witness any of the things goodell accuses the SAINTS of, and I know exactly what your thinking SAINTS FANS, people from the State of Louisana, and fans from the Gulf Coast Region are too stupid to know what they should have been looking for, well tough guy not only did the SAINTS FANS miss these pay for injury plays but so did the announcers, the referees, and the league office, so you tell me exactly what plays are goodell talking about? During the three years that the so called bounty program was in place only one player was carted off the field due to an injury and that’s when Reggie Bush’s leg was broken on a late hit in a game against the 49ers. And what a jerk you are by wishing that Jonathan Vilma breaks his leg, does it offend you that an innocent man who’s been falsely accused wants to clear his name? You also said the goodell is such a wonderful commissioner, he’s nothing but a shallow petty man who’s real goal in all of this was to slap down Coach Sean Peyton because he didn’t get down on one knee and kiss his ring at the Superbowl when the New Orleans Saints became and will always be the World Champions of Pro Football!!! And let me inform everyone who want this to go away and for SAINTS FANS to shut up, this isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning, SAINTS FANS are not going to forget what goodell has attempted to do to our team, so don’t be surprised that if the SAINTS aren’t in the Superbowl this year, that on Superbowl Sunday it’s gets very uncomfortable as 500,000 SAINTS FANS protest outside the Superdome, and also realize this, its the SAINTS this year but it may be your team next year!!! And the next time you want to wish an injury on a player, be man enough to sign your name and leave your email address so people who disagree with you, and people who you’ve offend by making such a nasty suggestion can explain to you why your such a puss for even saying something so pathetic. WHO DAT FRG FNFL
    Barry Sanchez
    Powder Springs, Ga.

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