Vilma right to take on dictator Roger
Hell, yes, Jonathan Vilma should sue Roger Goodell.
Someone has to stand against the NFL's well-intentioned, but wildly out-of-control, dictator. The elite NFL media, seduced by access and/or high-paying jobs on the television networks partnered with the national pastime, won't dare chop down Goodell to appropriate size, power and influence. And the NFL Players Association seemingly lacks the courage and resolve to regularly tussle with a commissioner corrupted by absolute power.
NFL BOUNTY SCANDAL
Players suspended for roles in scandal
Czar: Vilma can turn to courts
NFL denies Saints' appeal
Vikings duo rips Williams
Director defends release of audio
Whitner: Saints 'tried to knock QB out'
Report: Tape captured bounty offer
Payton meets with Parcells
So, yeah, in an effort to get justice, Jonathan Vilma has no choice but to drag Goodell into a courtroom. On paper, Vilma is suing for defamation. In reality, Vilma is suing to overturn a grossly excessive yearlong suspension for his limited and largely unproven role in the Saints bounty scandal.
Sean Payton, Gregg Williams, Mickey Loomis and Joe Vitt — the New Orleans power structure that orchestrated, cultivated and embraced the bounty culture — confessed to and apologized for their email-documented and/or player-corroborated roles in the forbidden activity. Vilma has offered no confession or apology, and Goodell has yet to counter with hard and public evidence. Even if he has it, the yearlong suspension of Vilma is unfair, devoid of common sense and sets a dangerous precedent.
Vilma — a 30-year-old player — is being punished far more harshly than Goodell's peers: Payton, Loomis and Vitt. A player has a short earning window. Vilma has played eight seasons. Knee injuries limited him last year. His career is winding down. He took a significant pay cut this offseason. The Saints signed several free-agent linebackers. Vilma's suspension could be career-ending.
Payton, who also received a year-long suspension, can be an NFL head coach for the next 15 years. Vitt (six-game suspension) can be a high-paid assistant for the next 15 years. Loomis (four-game suspension) can hold a high-paying front-office job for the next 15 years. Goodell's peers — with the exception of Williams (suspended indefinitely) — can easily recoup their losses.
The architects and the primary benefactors of the bounty scheme, the men who permanently enhanced their coaching resumes with a Super Bowl title, received lighter punishments than the defensive captain who has been trained since childhood to follow the lead of his coaches.
MATTER OF SAFETY
Ochocinco supports Goodell
Daryl Johnston talks concussions
Emmitt Smith concerned over future health
Forgrave: Carter violates unwritten code
Roddy White OK with NFL risks
Study: NFL players live longer
Report: Romanowski refutes Carter
Hell, yes, Jonathan Vilma should sue. Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove — the other suspended players — should join Vilma's lawsuit.
Football is militaristic. Adherence to chain of command is strictly enforced. Groupthink and submission to the will and values of the coaching staff are rewarded.
Vilma reflected his leaders. Does Goodell understand the culture he polices? I don't think he does. I think Goodell lives inside the cocoon of delusion we in the media and public have created for him. It's a cocoon that says professional athletes are stupid, irresponsible, lawless, spoiled, unworthy of their lofty salaries, undeserving of common respect and in desperate need of a law-and-order commissioner willing to discipline them.
Kernels of truth do not form the foundation for a sophisticated, mature and fair leadership strategy of a position as powerful as NFL commissioner. Kernels of truth often mislead. Vilma was a three-time Academic All-Big East player at Miami. Of Haitian descent, he started a charitable foundation in support of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Vilma shouldn't be defined by his role in the Saints scandal.
A great read From Jason Whitlock
Butt kisser, Ochocinco supports Goodell
I'd like to see Fujita file a similiar suit-
This is so sweet.
here is a question i would love to see answered.
If player safety is such a great concern then why has the NFL not addressed the issue of the Oakland Raiders year in and year out lead the NFL in personal fouls?
If this was about player safety (and it's not), consider there are any number of things the league could do and should do and could have done and should have done - even over, say, the last 5 years, but has NOT done.
You want to put a stop to big hits? Stop fining players a token amount of their salaries. Fine the teams. Fine the teams BIG, and give them 'out' clauses in contracts with players so teams can effectively cut overly-aggressive players without suffering salary cap implications. In other words, make it difficult for repeat offenders to find work. Now THAT'S putting teeth into the 'problem'...if, of course, that's what you really want...
But that's not what the NFL really wants, and we all know that. It markets violence. It's part of the game. Simple simple. Like the boogaloo...simple.
granted, I am unabashed Vilma fan but I think this is great
WOW! good for you Vilma. This is either going to be really awesome or really $h!tty
Welcome to Courtroom Football, the sequel. Following the 2011 version, “The Lockout,” we now have the 2012 version, “The Bounties.”
Following NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s suspensions of Saints head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis, which went (relatively) smoothly, Goodell’s player suspensions haven't been received quietly.
The NFLPA first filed two grievances -- one heard Wednesday, one to be heard on May 30 -- advancing different legal theories to remove jurisdiction from Goodell. Now Jonathan Vilma has raised the stakes with a defamation lawsuit against Goodell. Seeking to clear his name and reputation -- and perhaps pick up monetary damages along the way -- Vilma has filed in his “home court” in the Eastern District of Louisiana, requesting a jury trial in front of likely Saints fans.
The suit advances two basic arguments:
The comments at issue are 1) a March 2 memo and March 21 release, both alleging Vilma had offered $10,000 to any player who knocked Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship Game in 2010, and 2) a May 2 release alleging Vilma assisted Gregg Williams in establishing and funding the bounty program, and that Vilma had personally placed a bounty on Kurt Warner and Favre.
Vilma argues, as he has tweeted publicly, that he neither established a bounty program nor contributed any funds to such an enterprise.
Vilma argues Goodell’s statements are false and injurious to Vilma’s professional and personal reputation, a reputation tarnished to the public, to NFL clubs, and to future potential employers outside the NFL.
Need for evidence
Munson on Vilma's Defamation Lawsuit
ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson discusses Jonathan Vilma's decision to file a defamation lawsuit against Roger Goodell. Podcast
Vilma argues that Goodell has not revealed any direct evidence demonstrating the Saints bounty program existed, relying on “at best, hearsay, circumstantial evidence and lies." This merges with the NFLPA’s repeated requests for more detailed and specific evidence.
With Goodell having negotiated -- through the collective bargaining agreement -- the continuing right to be the ultimate arbiter on player conduct, the NFLPA has no ability to go inside Goodell’s decision-making process. Now that Vilma has taken this out of the realm of the personal conduct policy into court, the NFLPA hopes that -- through Vilma -- this will provide them the evidence they have been requesting.
Goodell’s lawyers -- and there is quite a roster -- will immediately try to have the case dismissed, arguing Vilma's claims are “pre-empted, ” as disputes between players and the commissioner are expressly governed by the CBA.
In the event the case is not dismissed, Goodell will argue that Vilma, as a well-known NFL player, is a "public figure" thus required to show "actual malice" and knowingly false statements by Goodell, a high standard of proof.
My sense is that the NFL’s concern here is less with the merits of the defamation suit and more with the discovery phase of the trial, if it gets to that, where Goodell would have to disclose sensitive information that he has been unwilling to share with the NFLPA or the public to this point.
Where there is a lot of money at stake, and there is here, there will be lawyers and lawsuits. Welcome to the return of Courtroom Football. Stay tuned.
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