Originally posted on NFL News & Rumors  |  Last updated 9/17/12

When Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell earlier today, he had reason to walk into the discussion with a positive outlook, especially in light of the recent decision by the league’s appeals panel to overturn the suspensions levied against him and several other players for their roles in New Orleans’ bounty program.

That outlook may have been premature however, as a source with knowledge of the meeting as indicated to ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the NFL presented Vilma and his legal team with new evidence that ties Vilma and other players to the bounty pool.

According to the source, the evidence presented to Vilma includes a sworn affidavit by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams that states Vilma specifically offered $10,000 to any teammate that was able to force quarterback Brett Favre from the field in the 2010 NFC title tilt between Minnesota and New Orleans.

In the affidavit, Williams testified that while he knew the pool was against league rules, there was never any intent to injure opposing players, and any player flagged by officials for a penalty such as roughing the passer was monetarily penalized by the program as opposed to the common notion that they were rewarded.

For his part, Vilma left the meeting with Goodell saying he believed it to have been “very frank, very truthful.” Vilma chose to meet with Goodell separately today, whereas the remaining three players with overturned suspensions, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and free agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove, will meet tomorrow.

The appeals panel has asked Goodell to clarify his reasoning behind the suspensions and indicate that player misconduct was the sole determining factor in the length and severity of the penalties imposed. The collective bargaining agreement signed by the owners and players union last summer only allows for Goodell to suspend players when inappropriate conduct takes place, and not for salary cap infractions, which the bounty program also involved.

©2012 NFL News & Rumors. All Rights Reserved.

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