After the New Orleans Saints defeated the Arizona Cardinals 17-10 in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, I didn't think anything could top that story. Then rumors began circulating that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had offered to reduce Jonathan Vilma's bounty suspension to eight games if he dropped his lawsuit. This proves that Goodell is trying to avoid a devastating loss in court.
Jonathan Vilma vs. Roger Goodell
After receiving a season-long suspension for his role in the Saints' alleged bounty program, Jonathan Vilma sued Roger Goodell and the NFL. In the federal court hearing on a potential temporary restraining order, Judge Berrigan had harsh words for the commissioner and how the NFL adjudicated the bounty punishments.
Already under fire, Roger Goodell cannot afford to lose to Vilma in court. If Judge Berrigan were to grant Vilma's TRO request and the Saints LB gets his suspension thrown out, Goodell could not survive such a defeat politically. I believe Goodell is only offering Vilma a reduced suspension to get him to drop his defamation lawsuit.
I will not offer Jonathan Vilma legal advice. However, if he accepts Goodell's offer, Vilma would still be tacitly admitting guilt. Even accepting a one-game suspension would prove him guilty. On the other hand, Vilma stands to regain half his 2012 Saints' salary if he accepts the offer.
Roger Goodell also knows that if Judge Berrigan rules there is no evidence of a bounty program in New Orleans, then perhaps even the Joe Vitt, Mickey Loomis, and Sean Payton suspensions would be back in play. If Goodell was wrong, do the New Orleans Saints get their $500,000 fine back? And would the Saints get an extra draft pick in 2013 to make up for the second round pick in 2012 they can't get back?
As you can see, this is beyond a nightmare scenario for Roger Goodell. The ramifications of Judge Berrigan ruling in favor of Jonathan Vilma would be catastrophic for the commissioner. Only a doomsday scenario such as this could motivate Goodell to reduce Vilma's suspension to eight games.
Jonathan Vilma and his attorney, Peter Ginsberg, have a critical decision to make. The impact of Vilma's decision will affect his career, the New Orleans Saints, Roger Goodell, and the NFL. Stay tuned.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of the New Orleans Saints. Patrick's favorite Saints season was 2009 when New Orleans won Super Bowl 44. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
ESPN broadcast of Sportscenter on August 5, 2012
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