Don’t you wish Roger Goodell and Jonathan Vilma could settle their differences the old fashioned way? Maybe a bout of underwater leg wrestling or a spirited game of tether ball. Either of those would give Goodell a fighting chance against Vilma’s clearly superior athletic skills. Instead, they continue to battle it out in the courts of law and public opinion.
U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan asked for clarification on one item in New Orleans Saints linebacker lawsuit against the NFL Commissioner and the deadline for lawyers to respond to that request is Friday. There is no hearing scheduled that day.
To prevail on his defamation claim, Vilma must convince the judge not only that Goodell acted maliciously but also with reckless disregard for the truth – a high standard especially when applied to public figures.
In a letter dated March 7, the NFL Players’ Association asked the NFL and Goodell to delay imposing its discipline on players implicated ‘bounty program’ that was allegedly in place from 2009 to 2011, according to the league’s investigation. The NFL said it honored that request. However, Vilma and his attorneys maintain the league and Commish had already made up its mind the players were guilty and thus the delay in announcing punishments was just another example of the league’s bad faith through the entire process, as were comments he made in the interim regarding Vilma’s presupposed guilt.
Judge Berrigan’s ruling on the NFL’s motion to dismiss is not expected until the end of the month.
Vilma has asked Judge Berrigan to grant a temporary restraining order to allow him to return to football while his case slowly makes it through the legal process, and the judge has said she would be inclined to rule in his favor, but must first determine she has jurisdiction to do so.
A three-member appeal panel is still reviewing the NFLPA’s appeal of arbitrator Stephen Burbank’s ruling that Goodell had the authority to serve as judge, jury and executioner on the bounty matter because of the league’s view the violations represented “conduct detrimental” to the NFL, as opposed to standard on-field violations, which would call for individual other than the commissioner to dole out punishment if it were deemed necessary. A ruling against the league would likely end the need for Vilma to continue his battle in federal court.
With football heating up after the first week of preseason, watching all this court maneuvering makes one wonder – can’t we all just get along…and of course play some full contact football?
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