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kcsaints 12-18-2012 12:54 PM

There's more to Jonathan Vilma than you might know
 
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METAIRIE, La.—Jonathan Vilma hasn’t backed down from his fight against the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell, even after scoring an overwhelming victory last week when his year-long suspension was overturned.

The way Vilma sees it, he still hasn’t gotten his reputation back. And he probably never will.
Jonathan Vilma is many things, be he also knows "bounty" will forever be part of what defines him. (AP Photo)

“You’re talking eight years before this happened, eight years of my career working hard, trying to be a good example of what it is to be a football player on and off the field. And in a matter of months, literally, all that is wiped away,” Vilma said. “The only thing you hear about when you mention Jonathan is ‘bounty’—either he did it or he didn’t do it. Some people believe me, some people don’t, regardless of the outcome.”

No matter which group you fall in, it’s hard to argue with Vilma on that account. He will probably be better known for the bounty scandal than anything he ever did on the field, which is a shame since his on-field accomplishments have been awfully noteworthy themselves.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection with more than 1,000 career tackles. A Super Bowl champion praised for going head-to-head against Peyton Manning in a battle of audibles in the biggest game of his life. A defensive rookie of the year with the New York Jets in 2004 after being a college star and national champion with the Miami Hurricanes.

Off the field, the 30-year-old Vilma’s credentials are equally impressive.

He was named the Saints’ Man of the Year in 2010 for his charitable efforts both in the U.S. and his parents’ birthplace of Haiti. And he was voted a team captain every year from 2009-2011 after being quickly embraced as a leader when he arrived via trade in 2008.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees particularly gravitated toward the equally competitive middle linebacker, known as the “quarterback of the Saints defense.” The two of them began a friendly but passionate rivalry on the practice field, with smack-talk and wagers on almost every two-minute drill.

“You just feel like that guy is the leader of the defense, and you respect him,” Brees once said of Vilma.

Ironically, the old story line with Vilma was that he was probably flying too far under the radar on a national level.

Heading into the 2011 season, after Vilma earned two straight Pro Bowl berths, he was ranked by his peers around the league as the 37th best player in the NFL on the NFL Network’s annual list.

At that time, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers talked about how Vilma was probably even more appreciated by his opponents than the national public.

“I think he has gone to an elite player. He is one of the top in the league at his position. I think you would put him up there with anybody that plays that position,” Rodgers said before the Packers and Saints played in the Thursday night season opener. “For some reason, his name is often left out when you are talking about the best players at middle linebacker. It's unfortunate there is a number of very good guys in the NFC, when you think about Patrick Willis, and Brian Urlacher has a recognizable name. For some reason, I feel like Jonathan's name gets left out when you talk about Pro Bowl balloting and stuff. When it comes to the players that play in the game, there is no lack of respect for Jonathan Vilma.

“Any good defense starts with a talented, athletic, very intelligent middle linebacker, and that is what the Saints have in Jonathan Vilma.”

Unfortunately, Vilma’s career began taking a downturn just one week later when he suffered a knee injury in practice that would eventually require three different surgeries both during and after the 2011 season.

Vilma has never quite been 100 percent since, though he’s appeared to be on the mend since returning from the physically-unable-to-perform list in Week 7 this season. He has 37 tackles, one sack and one pass defense in nine games—mostly while playing the weakside linebacker position for the first time in his career.

Since his return, Vilma has played both nickel linebacker and weakside linebacker because younger Saints newcomer Curtis Lofton has become entrenched at the middle linebacker spot. And Lofton figures to remain there in the years to come as the Saints continue to remake the unit under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

As to whether or not Vilma will remain in the Saints' future, that remains a huge question mark.

Vilma is held in the highest regard by coaches and teammates as a leader with a high football IQ. Rising stars like end Cameron Jordan routinely refer to him as a valuable mentor.

But to have any chance of staying in New Orleans, Vilma will have to agree to a drastic pay cut from his scheduled $6 million in salary and bonuses—both because of his diminished production and because the Saints will be under some serious salary-cap constraints.

It is possible Vilma would do that, since he agreed to a smaller pay cut to stay with the team this year. But it’s also quite possible Vilma’s terrific five-year run with the Saints will end on a dark note, under the cloud of the bounty scandal that will never go away.

There's more to Jonathan Vilma than you might know - NFL - Sporting News

Mardigras9 12-18-2012 01:08 PM

Re: There's more to Jonathan Vilma than you might know
 
Vilma may have to accept a pay cut and re-establish his "playing" reputation next year.

kcsaints 12-18-2012 01:08 PM

Re: There's more to Jonathan Vilma than you might know
 
I really want Vilma to win his law suit - but will that change the perception of the public? Most likely not. Very sad situation.

CharityMike 12-18-2012 01:23 PM

Re: There's more to Jonathan Vilma than you might know
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kcsaints (Post 466228)
I really want Vilma to win his law suit - but will that change the perception of the public? Most likely not. Very sad situation.

Us fans want him to win his lawsuit as a form of redemption. Unfortunetly, no one else cares. No one wants to hear about this anymore. He is going to forever have a scarlett letter on him. Which is why I think he has to go after the def suit with everything he's got. If he can get a win, he will also be known as the player who took down the tyrant!

QBREES9 12-19-2012 08:32 AM

Re: There's more to Jonathan Vilma than you might know
 
If he can get a win, he will also be known as the player who took down the tyrant!

Let him win !

Rugby Saint II 12-19-2012 03:19 PM

Re: There's more to Jonathan Vilma than you might know
 
I wonder if Godhell knows about the wagers in practice between Brees and Vilma? They may both be thrown out for conduct unbecoming an NFL player.

hagan714 12-19-2012 07:09 PM

Re: There's more to Jonathan Vilma than you might know
 
he is a great player and a great person but we have too much money in LB right now. i have to see what the saints can do to keep the core. that would be great


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