Monday, May 21, 2012

Linebacker Tackles NFL Commish in Defamation Suit

Linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive coordi...Linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma last week filed an 11-count defamation suit against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana arising from the league's response to the Saints' "Bounty Rule" scandal.

In Vilma v. Goodell (Case No. 12-cv-1283), Vilma, an 8-year NFL veteran, alleges in a 16-page Complaint that his personal and professional reputation was sullied by a March 2, 2011, NFL Club Report that states: "[P]rior to a Saints playoff game in January 2010, defensive captain Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 in cash to any player who knocked [opposing quarterback Brett] Favre out of the game." Vilma has been suspended by the league for the entire 2012-2013 season for his alleged involvement in the Saints' Bountygate scandal that purportedly occurred over the 2009 through 2011 seasons.

The plaintiff's Complaint, which includes multiple accounts alleging slander, libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress, faults the defendant and the NFL for allegedly not being forthcoming in producing corroborating evidence concerning the bounty scandal. The league fined the Saints $500,000, suspended Head Coach Sean Payton without pay for the upcoming NFL season, suspended General Manager Mickey Loomis for half the 2012-2013 season, indefinitely suspended ex-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from the NFL and suspended Asst. Coach Joe Vitt for the first half-dozen regular season games in 2012, among other disciplinary action. Vilma was one of four players suspended for their alleged involvement in the bounty program.

The scandal allegedly involved assigning cash rewards from a pool in which Saints players purportedly participated for various injuries inflicted on opponents, including "cart-offs" in which a player is carried off the field and "knockouts" in which an opposing player is forced from the game because of a hit inflicted by a Saints player. "TUOL" doubts the Vegas line would give odds that Vilma's suit ever goes to trial, but if it were to, the public no doubt would be shocked at the revelation that professional football is a contact sport.

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