Suspended LB Jonathan Vilma Sues Roger Goodell For Defamation
Suspended Saints LB Jonathan Vilma sued NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell personally for defamation in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana today, claiming in a filing the NFLer never participated in an alleged bounty program. Vilma is the most severely punished player among the four Saints and ex-Saints by Goodell, receiving an entire season suspension for allegedly helping to orchestrate a bounty system at the Saints between '09-11. Vilma has already previously denied a role in such a program though his attorney.
Through his attorney, Peter Ginsberg, and the NFLPA, he is appealing the suspensions via the mechanisms laid out in the CBA, but the lawsuit is the first measure taken through the courts by any of the accused. In the complaint, Vilma denied all the accusations made against him, and specifically stated that he never paid or intended to pay a $10,000 bounty on former Vikings QB Brett Favre. Notably, the complaint did not state that he never said he would pay such money, only that he did not pay such money or ever intend to pay such money. A source close to suspended former Saints coach Gregg Williams, in a story in SportsBusiness Journal this week, said the so-called bounty program was more of a motivational exercise, and money frequently was not paid out. The complaint alleged that not only had Vilma’s reputation been hurt by the charges, but he would have difficulty obtaining employment when he retired. He asks the court for punitive and compensatory damages, as well as all other costs.