Jonathan Vilma filed a motion to sue NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in Federal court today. This lawsuit over Vilma’s role in the Saints bounty scandal claims Goodell publicly defamed Vilma, harming his ability to pursue a career in the NFL and in his post-NFL career. The Saints linebacker is asking for punitive damages, compensatory damages, interest on damages, and attorney fees.
The NFLPA appears to be supporting this lawsuit. While they want to protect the players who may have been targetted in a bounty scheme, they have a fiduciary responsibility to accused players like Vilma. However they may feel about the lawsuit, the NFL Players Association agrees on one thing about this case: the NFL needs to show its evidence to those whose reputation it’s sought to destroy. The early analysis seems to indicate the NFL would have to open its records and provide proof that Jonathan Vilma is guilty, if this ever saw the inside of a courtroom. The NFL views this as an in-house matter and therefore believe that a lack of full disclosure is appropriate.
As much as I wish this whole thing would blow over/go away, I have to admit a certain morbid fascination over what the records would show. Did the NFL rush to judgment in suspending Vilma and his former teammates, without the kind of evidence warranted? Are the claims, as Vilma’s statement puts it, “false, defamatory, and injurious”? Or will the records make those accused look even worse, so that the NFL could be seen to be protecting the reputations of those involved from further public scrutiny? Or has the NFL’s lack of disclosure been to conceal other dirty truths about the NFL which would come out in the event the records were made public?
Whatever the truth, I get the idea that Roger Goodell has been most concerned about protecting the brand in this scandal. I guess it’s just a matter of whether the NFL “protecting the brand” overcame their legal good sense to follow pr good sense. If we’re going to be subjected to months more of this story, I hope we do see the documents. It’s hard to form a solid opinion until we do.
Did the Dolphins Pull the Trigger Too Fast?
Meanwhile, the NYPD decided to drop charges against Brandon Marshall stemming from a nightclub incident last winter. Marshall’s agent, Leigh Steinberg, is already claiming Brandon Marshall is the victim in this case. This brings to mind one question: did the Miami Dolphins get rid of Brandon Marshall too soon?
Trouble seems to follow the guy, so maybe they decided he would leave them in the lurch sooner or later. Still, the Chicago Bears added a top receiver for Jay Cutler by giving up two 3rd round picks, neither of which is near as certain to have solved the Bears’ receiver issues. Maybe the Dolphins front office is vindicated in the end, but I have the sneaking suspicion they are just digging a deeper hole for themselves, trading one of their offensive stars and drafting a quarterback with 2 years experience at the position.
Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy signed a long term deal today, which means that’s one less guy we have to hear about holding out and/or being unhappy with contracts in August. The Wes Welker negotiations look like they might be getting ugly, though. The NFL wheels go ’round and ’round.