New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has informed a federal judge that he will file an injunction of his year-long ban in connection with a cash-for-hits bounty program if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t overturn the suspension.
WWLV-TV in New Orleans reported Vilma’s intention to file the injunction and posted a link to the letter he sent to U.S. District Court Judge Helen G. Berrigan.
Vilma submitted his letter to the U.S. District Court in New Orleans because the defamation lawsuit he filed against Goodell was assigned to Berrigan. The injunction, however, is not attached to the defamation lawsuit.
If Vilma’s suspension isn’t overturned by Goodell, Berrigan will be asked to grant an injunction that would allow Vilma to play while the legal process continues.
The NFL has suspended four players — all of them current or former Saints — in connection with the bounty probe. Vilma was suspended for all of the 2012 season, Green Bay defensive end Anthony Hargrove was suspended eight games, Saints defensive end Will Smith was suspended four games, and Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita three. All four players have appealed their suspensions.
Goodell heard the players’ appeals June 18; however, Vilma left his hearing after just an hour and didn’t return for an afternoon session.
The linebacker’s attorney, Peter Ginsberg, called the hearing “a sham” and said Goodell failed to present the evidence on which he based his decision to impose Vilma’s penalty.
“Roger Goodell has taken three months to tear down what I built over eight years. It’s tough to swallow. I have been linked to a bounty, and it simply is not true,” Vilma said. “I don’t know how I can get a fair process when he is the judge, jury and executioner. You’re assuming it will be fair, but it’s not.”
Vilma sued Goodell for defamation in May, claiming the league’s top executive made false statements that tarnished Vilma’s reputation and hindered his ability to earn a living playing football.
The commissioner has until July 5 to respond to Vilma’s defamation lawsuit.