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  1. #1
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    Apr 2006

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    Default Sources: Jonathan Vilma offered deal

    The NFL has offered to reduce New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma's year-long suspension to eight games as part of ongoing settlement talks involving the league, the NFL Players Association and legal representatives for the four players who were suspended for their alleged participation in the team's bounty program from 2009-2011, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

    The league's offer was made late last week but it is conditional upon Vilma dropping a civil lawsuit charging commissioner Roger Goodell with defamation of character, sources said. Vilma has expressed his strong feelings about his tainted reputation.

    [...] Judge Berrigan expressed concerns about Goodell's actions during the first hearing in which seven members of the Saints testified that they never witnessed Vilma offering $10,000 to any teammate who injured opposing quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Brett Favre in the 2009-2010 playoffs. Those who testified also denied there was a pay-to-injure bounty program, including Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt, who will serve his own six-game suspension to open the season.

    While sources said league attorneys have urged Goodell to offer reductions in the suspensions as a settlement, a league official reiterated Goodell's position that if the players had participated fully in the appeals process, the commissioner may have reduced the penalties as he has with other players who have been disciplined in other cases. The league official also noted that the current legal proceeding began with a settlement conference.

  2. #2
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    Apr 2006

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    Default Re: Sources: Jonathan Vilma offered deal

    Now is saying a "source close to the situation" claims the NFL made no settlement offer to Vilma, but that it "does not mean a proposal might not be made in the future."

    I'm not sure why the NFL would need to leak this type of info off the record...if they have not made a settlement offer and haven't even spoken to Vilma about it, why not just go on record and say so? If that's true then the NFL has absolutely nothing to lose by officially denying the report. Instead, we get this:

    NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league had no comment on the report.

    For the record, Peter King apparently also has a source ...sources galore, here...and King says "I'd heard the NFL also wanted Vilma to admit some culpability in the case, but that he's steadfast against that.."
    In response to an report that the NFL has offered Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma a deal that would drop his one-game suspension to an eight-game ban in exchange for a dismissal of his lawsuits against the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell, Steve Wyche of the league-owned media operation reports that the league “has made no settlement offer” to Vilma.

    It’s likely a potato-potahto situation. Even if no formal offer has been made, it’s entirely possible that the lawyers have made it clear that such an outcome would be available, if Vilma would accept it. That common approach provides plausible deniability where, in a case like this one, someone blabs about the non-offer offer.

    The fact that Vilma and/or someone close to him spilled the beans means that the offer may not be available any longer. It also means that Vilma and/or someone close to him likely doesn’t care, because Vilma has never said or done anything to suggest he’ll accept even an eight-play suspension.

    The league needs to throw water on this one quickly because the initial reaction has been that the NFL is showing weakness.

    With Judge Helen G. Berrigan posing questions during a July 26 hearing that suggested she may be leaning toward lifting linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s suspension — and possibly overturning all of the suspensions later — the league reportedly has offered a middle ground. According to Ed Werder, Adam Schefter, and Chris Mortensen of (what, did they take turn typing the letters?), the NFL has offered to reduce Vilma’s suspension to eight games.

    Though Steve Wyche of NFL Network said on NFLAM said that no specific offer has been made, the report comes at a time when it makes sense to be talking about possible alternatives to a court-ordered outcome.

    The report also comes in the wake of a report by Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports that, if the NFLPA had cooperated with the league’s process, Vilma may have ultimately been suspended only four games. Setting aside for now the serious disconnect between legal gamesmanship and the notion of doing the right thing, the leak to Cole may have laid the foundation for the news of what could be characterized as backpedaling by the league office.

    Indeed, that’s the obvious initial reaction to the report from Werdscheftenson. The league by all appearances has blinked. Coupled with Cole’s report, the spin could be that the NFL is simply trying to finish this thing where it would have ended if Vilma hadn’t refused to participate in the process.

    When Commissioner Roger Goodell hammered Vilma et al., we suggested at some point the possibility that Goodell deliberately overshot with the penalties so that he could prove the appeal process works — even if it makes him look wishy-washy for second-guessing his initial decision. Vilma prevented that from happening by refusing to throw himself on the mercy of what the players regard as a kangaroo court....

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