Found December 13, 2012 on
Jon Vilma urged a federal judge Friday to reject NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's motion to dismiss the defamation lawsuit filed against him by the Saints linebacker.
Vilma's request to U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan argues Goodell acted with ''reckless disregard for the truth'' when basing initial allegations about Vilma upon one fired Saints assistant, Mike Cerullo, whose testimony has been inconsistent and challenged by other witnesses in the NFL's bounty probe of the Saints.
The motion centers on Goodell's public comments that Vilma held up $10,000 cash in a team meeting in 2010, offering it to anyone who knocked Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner out of a playoff game.
During recent NFL appeal hearings in the bounty case, former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams testified he never saw any money.
''Williams has always told Goodell, and continues to state, that there was never any cash put up for a bounty on any player. It was `just talk.''' Vilma's motion reads. ''Nonetheless, Goodell irresponsibly chose to contend that Vilma walked around with $10,000 before the Cardinals game.''
Vilma's season-long suspension and with various shorter bans for three other players were thrown out Tuesday by former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who Goodell had appointed to oversee the appeals of player punishment.
After Tagliabue's decision, the NFL Players Association dropped claims in federal court on behalf of Saints defensive end Will Smith and two former Saints: Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove. Vilma dropped his claims against the league concerning the disciplinary process, but moved forward with his defamation case against the commissioner, asking Berrigan to allow discovery, which consists of the collection of evidence and deposing of witnesses. Berrigan has so far delayed discovery while the Goodell's motion to dismiss the case is pending.
In their effort to highlight how unreliable Cerullo was, Vilma's attorneys, Peter Ginsberg and Duke Williams, cite hearing testimony from Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who said Payton once arranged for police protection at his former suburban family home while he was away at league meetings because the head coach feared Cerullo was emotionally unstable and might harm his family.
While the lawsuit does not quote the testimony from the closed-door hearing directly, it appears in transcripts obtained by The Associated Press.
''An email was sent to the League about Mike Cerullo long before these (bounty) charges were brought up on our football team saying that Mike Cerullo was crazy, that Sean Payton had to have a police escort or, excuse me, police protection at his house because he was going to the owners' meeting, and he was worried about his family with Cerullo,'' Vitt testified. ''This is the kind of guy we're dealing with. Allright?''
Vilma's motion also notes that the NFL subsequently dropped Goodell's initial allegation about Vilma physically holding up money in the meeting before the Arizona game.
''There can no longer be any doubt that Goodell acted with malice ... in making this quasi-criminal accusation against Vilma,'' the motion said.
The NFL continues to allege that Vilma offered a $10,000 to anyone who knocked then-Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2010 NFC title game, which followed the Arizona game. Williams testified that he recalled such an offer for that game, but never saw any money change hands and suggested the offer represented nothing more than tough talk in an emotional meeting that he allowed to get out of hand.
BEST OF MAXIM
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the team is considering expanding the NFL playoffs from 12 teams to possibly more.
Roger Goodell's truly a mastermind when it comes to controlling the public conversation around his league and sculpting the media's headlines. Barely 24 hours after some scribes in the NFL working press started to question the motivation behind the since-overturned Bountygate suspensions he delivered in the spring, the commissioner floated the prospect of a 14- or 16-team...
During his press conference at the NFL owner’s meetings, commissioner Roger Goodell told the media that they’re going to look into possibly expanding the playoffs from 12 teams to possibly 14 or 16.
Goodell just said at his presser that the league will look at expanding the playoffs to 14 or 16 teams.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 12, 2012
This is certainly one of...
LONG NIGHTMARE IS OVER
Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has vacated the suspensions and fines imposed upon Saints players as a result of the NFL's Bountygate investigation.
(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Big Pete on the commissioner’s plans to expand the playoffs…
Today, Roger Goodell said that they are discussing the expansion of the NFL playoffs to either 14 or 16 teams. While I don’t know what is going through his brain, lets take a quick look at how this impacts the playoff structure as we know it.
As it stands, 6 teams in each conference...
(Eds: With AP Photos.) By JIM LITKE AP Sports Columnist ''Round up the usual suspects.''
Funny how that line near the end of ''Casablanca'' provides a fitting epitaph for Bountygate, too. Like Capt. Renault in the film classic, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was presented with a crime and empowered as both judge and jury. He considered the...
(Eds: With AP Photos.) By JIM LITKE AP Sports Columnist Paul Tagliabue has become one of those guys we come to appreciate much more out of office than we did when he was in it. Part of that is because history has been kind, so far, in assessing his 17-year run as commissioner.
Some of it may have to do with his successor.
Tagliabue lacked charisma, but never smarts. Low-key and...
As the criticism of Roger Goodell’s handling of Bountygate started to heat up, the NFL commissioner threw out another “talker,” expanding the playoffs, and Bountygate went to the backburner.
After the December Special League Meeting on Wednesday, Roger Goodell had some remarks that were certain to get the attention of every NFL fan everywhere. Following the meeting to determine issues to present to the Competition Committee, Goodell spoke about possibly expanding the playoff field. According to Goodell, this topic has come before the Competition [...]
New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma contends in a request filed Friday with a federal judge that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell disregarded the truth while putting credibility in allegations by former Saints assistant coach Mike Cerullo. Vilma urged U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan to proceed with the defamation lawsuit he filed against Goodell, which the commissioner...
Paul Tagliabue has lifted all suspensions related to the Saints bounty scandal. (Credit: Associated Press)
Four players that played for the New Orleans Saints had been previously suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell for their roles in the Saints pay-for-injury scandal led by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Now after fighting for a fair and open appeal, current Saints...
I’ll be honest, I was shocked that former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue vacated the suspensions of four former and current New Orleans Saints players. The players must have felt the same way, because when it was announced last month by current commissioner Roger Goodell that Tagliabue would hear their appeal, they fought to have him to recuse himself.
Lucky for them he didn’t...
Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has issued a ruling regarding the the player suspension appeals in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty case. After current commissioner Roger Goodell recused himself from the situation, Tagliabue maintained that the League’s findings against Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith, and Jonathan Vilma were factual but rescinded the suspensions set fourth upon [...]