Both Jonathan Vilma and NFL would be wise to cut a deal and close bountygate
Just when you think the bounty story has run its course, it abruptly reverses course and gathers renewed momentum. It's the story that won't die, the bad movie that never gets to the credits. In the past 48 hours alone, the story's narrative has taken more twists and turns than the lower Mississippi. A day after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stood firm in his position on the scandal, word leaked that he has offered to reduce the yearlong suspension to New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma in exchange for ending litigation against Goodell. So what gives here?
Is the NFL offering an olive branch to show mercy on the players in hopes of reaching a resolution?
Or is this the NFL's way of waving a white flag, a sign the league lacks confidence in its case going forward?
Most likely, it's a little of both.
The NFL clearly is ready for this story to end. It's dominated the headlines for five months, in part because of the ham-fisted way it's been handled by both sides. The last thing the league wants is for bountygate to stretch into the fall and winter. Goodell said as much on Saturday night.
"I think (the Saints) want to move on and get back to focusing on football and moving forward," Goodell said to NFL.com. "I understand that, we all do. We all want to get back to playing football."
So maybe this settlement offer -- or alleged offer, if you believe the NFL's denial -- is the league's way of creating a soft landing for this contentious battle before the real games begin.
After all, the league appears to be in a giving mood. They approved Sean Payton's trip to last weekend's Hall of Fame ceremony and didn't raise a stink when his group-hug with players and coaches nearly upstaged the proceedings.
Maybe, just maybe, the league is softening its stance a little in a gesture of reconciliation.
That's one way of looking at it.
Another is to see surrender. Why else would the NFL, after months of taking the players to the mats, suddenly offer leniency? Could this legal retreat be an effort to prevent their shaky case from being exposed in a court of law?
Regardless of where you stand on the bounty issue, it's difficult to justify yearlong suspensions for any of the involved parties.
MICHAEL DeMOCKER / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE
On the football field at Roswell Kent Middle School in Akron, Ohio, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell listens to questions from Times-Picayune reporters about the punishments he meted out in the Saints bounty scandal. He was on hand to help present 125 youth football players from the Akron Parent Pee Wee Football League with new and safer helmets, replacing older ones in an effort to promote player safety on Saturday, August 4, 2012.
If the league's goal in this case was to end the underground bounty practice and send a message to its constituency, it could have done so with equal effectiveness by issuing lesser suspensions.
Trust me, no one is going to run a bounty program in the NFL after witnessing this white-hot mess.
Somewhere along the way, the whole thing devolved into a battle of egos, a high-stakes clash of personalities and bravado.
While the NFL talks resolutely about the strength of its case publicly, behind closed doors there appears to be an unsettling sense of uncertainty as the legal battle intensifies.
I would not make an offer if I knew I was in the right. I would not accept an offer if I knew I was in the right. I believe an offer was made or there was talk of it because this hasn't come from nowhere. But here's an idea; what do you think the NFL would say if Vilma said 'Here's the offer I am making; cut Coach Payton's punishment to my satisfaction and you have a deal.'
Now that would be a story!
Where is the evidence?
Only the NFL would be wise to end this lawsuit.. Jonathan Vilma has taken on Goliath and is weeks away from winning this case and protecting his name!
Keep on Jon! Make these bastards pay for what they've done.
Make them show the "evidence".
Make them eat crow and apologize while feathers hang from their mouths.
You too Peter King.
Gup that is exactly what i would do. i would want all suspensions(including vitt, payton and loomis) cut by 3/4, as they should expect to serve some suspension for the pay for performance, have the NFL state they received bad evidence from a disgruntled former saints employee and they had not run a bounty program but merely a pay for performance program which still violates policy and finally have the NFL pay my legal bill. That is the only deal i would accept. unless the coaches are included in the deal they still end up serving original suspensions. they have no one to appeal to.
Vilma is sticking to his guns.
Hopefully Vilma comes back and either he or Lofton takes Shanle's spot...
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