Vilma’s lawyer calls Goodell “misguided and irresponsible”; claims bounties were for “good, clean, legal plays”
Peter Ginsberg, the man who is representing Saints LB Johnathan Vilma in his appeal of the one-year suspension handed to him by Roger Goodell and also the defamation lawsuit that Vilma has filed against commissioner Goodell, has issued a statement in response to the allegations that there was a ledger that documents the Saints’ bounty payments. In the statement, Ginsberg called these reports “…more evidence of how misguided and irresponsible Commissioner Goodell has been in handling this issue.”
Regarding the ledger that Roger Goodell claims implicates players in the bounty scandal, Ginsberg claims the following:
(1) the information identifies no specific players who were injured or paid; (2) statistics from the 2009 game between the Saints and the Panthers, for which three $1,000 payments allegedly were made, “show that opposing defensive players, not offensive players, were the brunt of any physical plays”; and (3) the payments made, regardless of the name applied, reflected “good, clean, legal plays, and . . . any dirty or penalized play resulted in fines to players, not awards.”
Ginsberg then followed these allegations with the following statement:
“The truth is that Jonathan Vilma gave no money, incentive or encouragement ever — not at any time in his eight-year career — to injure or knock out of any game any player with a dirty or unsportsmanlike hit. The facts are plain and simple. During the three seasons in question, Jonathan Vilma was one of the least penalized players not only on the Saints but in the NFL. There is not one instance in which Jonathan Vilma set out to injure a player or gave any incentive to another player to injure an opposing player.”
In regards to Vilma allegedly being one of the least penalized players in the league, according to STATS, LLC, Vilma has played in 42 games since 2009 and has only been penalized three times in those games. 2/3 of NFL defensive players who played in 40 or more games during that same period were penalized more than Vilma.
If these statements are indeed true, this may be the hand that forces the commissioner to put his cards down on the table and finally reveal all of the evidence that he has regarding the bounty scandal or risk being called a fraud during the defamation lawsuit filed by Johnathan Vilma. The next few weeks of this scandal will be extremely important to both sides, and it will be interesting to see what moves both sides make.