I haven’t yet blogged about Jonathan Vilma’s suspension because my opinions are a little all over the place. But my primary thought was that suspending a 30 year old defensive player for a year is infinitely more harsh than suspending a coach for a year. Especially since Vilma plays linebacker which is a position that isn’t so easy to come back from after a year off. It’s not like he’s a QB or WR.
Regardless of position, suspending any player for a year is more than just a pay cut, it’s a knock at the rest of their career. Suspending a coach for a year is difficult on the team but the coach will come back and work 20 more years. That’s why Vilma’s suspension just feel fundamentally unfair.
Vilma obviously thinks so too. I doubt he would have appealed a 3 game suspension like current Cleveland Browns’ player Scott Fujita received.
Today a copy of Vilma’s lawyers’ request to the NFL was issued. And Vilma wants to see the evidence the NFL used to determine his level of involvement with the bounty program. And this is another thing…how can the NFL hand down all these punishments when we haven’t even seen the evidence. I know they’ve said there are thousands of pages or whatever and witness statements but I just feel like we at least deserve a synopsis of what that entails. In particular, since Roger Goodell has so much power when it comes to suspending folks. Vilma’s appeal of his suspension is going right back to the man who made the decision. And we know that Roger Goodell tends to agree with Roger Goodell. Closest thing he’s come to disagreeing with himself is reducing fines for illegal hits (on appeal, of course). Still, so far, we’ve gotten almost nothing in the way of understanding the NFL’s evidence in this case.
It sounds like Vilma hasn’t gotten anything either. The request is essentially an attempt to get copies of everything the NFL has on Vilma and the New Orleans Saints bounty program.
1. All documents and communications evidencing a “pay-for-performance/bounty” program, including, but not limited to, any ledger, notebook, record or record book, payment slip, note or entry of any sort, or evidencing that no such “pay-for- performance/bounty” program existed and/or involved Mr. Vilma;
2. All documents and communications evidencing that Mr. Vilma established, or assisted in establishing, a “pay-for-performance/bounty” program or any other program in violation of NFL rules, or evidencing that Mr. Vilma did not have a role in establishing, or assisting in the establishment of, such “pay-for-performance/bounty” program;
3. All documents and communications evidencing that Mr. Vilma “pledged,” made or received payments of any kind resulting from an opposing player being carried off the field, i.e., “cart-offs,” including but not limited to any ledger, notebook, record or record book, payment slip, note or entry of any sort, or evidencing that Mr. Vilma did not “pledge,” make or receive payments resulting from an opposing player being carried off the field, i.e., “cart-offs”
Read the entire request here.
Update: I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that jail-house snitch Nevin Shapiro implicated Vilma in participating in a bounty program at University of Miami in Yahoo’s detailed “expose” of U of M. I blogged about that story here.
Update 2: *sigh* I’m just not on the ball today. Forgot to mention that the NFLPA has filed a grievance against the NFL challenging their authority to suspend the players involved in the bounty case. Part of their argument is that the league hasn’t presented enough evidence. Fancy that.