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NFL roundup: Vilma asks court to continue defamation suit

The SportsXchange

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma contends in a request filed Friday with a federal judge that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell disregarded the truth while putting credibility in allegations by former Saints assistant coach Mike Cerullo.

Vilma urged U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan to proceed with the defamation lawsuit he filed against Goodell, which the commissioner is attempting to get the court to dismiss.

Vilma's request stated that Goodell acted "reckless disregard for the truth" in the initial stages of the NFL's investigation into the Saints' bounty program.

Peter Ginsberg, Vilma's attorney, said the NFL should have questioned Cerullo's story from the outset.

"Cerullo was fired for his incompetence and repeated and material lies to the Saints which caused him to miss several weeks of the 2009 season," Ginsberg said.

Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, appointed to oversee the players' appeals process in the Saints' bounty case, determined Tuesday that Vilma's season-long suspension and bans for three others players should be rescinded.

Goodell said publicly that Vilma waived $10,000 in cash at a team meeting as a reward for a player who could take Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner out of a playoff game in 2010.

---ESPN suspended commentator Rob Parker on Friday for comments he made about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Parker questioned Griffin's "blackness" during a segment on ESPN's "First Take" on Thursday when he was asked about Griffin's role as a black quarterback.

"Is he a brother or a cornball brother?" said Parker, who is also African American.

"We all know he has a white fiancee. There was all this talk about he's a Republican, which, there's no information (about that) at all. I'm just trying to dig deeper as to why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like, 'I've got black skin, but don't call me black.' So people got to wondering about Tiger Woods early on."

ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz announced that Parker was suspended "until further notice. We are conducting a full review."

Griffin was officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns after taking part in limited practice for a third consecutive day Friday with a sprained knee.

Running back Alfred Morris (illness), linebacker London Fletcher (ankle) and left tackle Trent Williams (thigh) are probable.

---Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler took part in all of Friday's practice and is listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers.

Cutler left last Sunday's game against Minnesota with a neck injury, but he also is dealing with a mild knee sprain.

Josh Johnson and Stephen McGee worked out for the Bears on Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported, but neither was immediately signed.

Meanwhile, cornerback Tim Jennings was officially ruled out with a shoulder injury. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (hamstring) and wide receiver Earl Bennett (concussion) will also sit out against the Packers.

Running back Michael Bush (ribs) returned to limited practice and is listed as questionable. Linebacker Lance Briggs and tight end Kellen Davis are nursing knee injuries but took part in Friday's session and are probable for Sunday.

---New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw will miss Sunday's game at the Atlanta Falcons with the sprained knee he suffered last week.

Bradshaw did not practice all week and was officially ruled out Friday.

Rookie David Wilson will start in Bradshaw's place, and veterans Kregg Lumpkin and Ryan Torain, signed two weeks ago, are also likely to be active.

Cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) and safety Kenny Phillips (knee) have also been ruled out, as was backup safety Tyler Sash.

Linebacker Michael Boley, who experienced back pain Wednesday, is expected to be fine to face the Falcons. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (knee) and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (back) will also play.

---New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to practice Friday for the first time since he underwent surgery for a broken forearm in November.

Gronkowski sustained the injury on Nov. 18 in the Patriots' 59-28 victory over Indianapolis. He has missed New England's past three games while recovering.

The Patriots are preparing for their Sunday night matchup with San Francisco, but Gronkowski's availability for that game remains uncertain.

Before the injury, Gronkowski had caught 53 passes for 748 yards and 10 touchdowns.

---The Green Bay Packers will welcome the return of linebacker Clay Matthews on Sunday for their game against NFC North rival Chicago Bears.

A hamstring injury has forced Matthews to miss the past four games. He is listed as probable this week.

Wide receiver Jordy Nelson won't play against the Bears because of a hamstring injury. Cornerback Charles Woodson (collarbone), running back James Starks (knee) and defensive end C.J. Wilson (knee) also are out.

Right guard Josh Sitton is questionable with a hip problem and right tackle T.J. Lang is probable after sitting out last week's game with an ankle injury.

---Pittsburgh Steelers chairman emeritus Dan Rooney is resigning as U.S. ambassador to Ireland after serving in that role since 2009.

Rooney, 80, will return to Pittsburgh and could be in Dallas on Sunday when the Steelers play the Cowboys.

Rooney traveled often to the United States to attend Steelers games while serving in Ireland. Rooney and son Art II, the team's president, hold a 30 percent stake in the team.

---Jovan Belcher may have argued with girlfriend Kasandra Perkins over the paternity of their 11-week-old baby before shooting her and later killing himself, according to a report.

Belcher's mother, Cheryl Shepherd, told police investigators that he wasn't sure he was the father of the child, Zoey, the New York Post reported Friday. The Kansas City Chiefs linebacker shot Perkins nine times at their home on Dec. 1 in Kansas City.

As Kansas City police wrapped up the investigation and gave their findings to prosecutors Friday morning, a department spokesman said paternity was an issue in the case and called the Post report inaccurate.

---Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the New York Giants with a knee injury.

He missed practice all week and is expected to be could be a game-time decision.

White, who has not missed a game since being drafted in 2005, has 77 catches for 1,140 yards with five touchdowns this season.

---The Indianapolis Colts will be without two starters on the offensive line Sunday against the Houston Texans.

Injured center Samson Satele (ankle) and right tackle Winston Justice (biceps) will not travel with the team to Houston, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Center A.Q. Shipley and tackle Jeff Linkenbach will start instead.

Running back Delone Carter (ankle), linebacker Kavell Conner (hamstring) and safety Tom Zbikowski (knee) are also not travelling with the team because of injuries.

Left guard Joe Reitz will return after missing last week's game with a head injury.

---Seattle Seahawks defensive back Walter Thurmond was ruled out of Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills due to a hamstring injury, according to the team's website.

Thurmond was injured during practice on Wednesday. He also missed the two previous games because of a hamstring injury.

Coach Pete Carroll said Jeremy Lane and Bryon Maxwell will rotate at right cornerback in place of Thurmond.

Cornerback Marcus Trufant (hamstring) is also out for Sunday.

Wide receiver Charly Martin was placed on injured reserve after sustaining a pulled calf muscle in practice Thursday.

---The Jacksonville Jaguars waived rookie wide receiver Kevin Elliott, activated rookie offensive lineman Austin Pasztor to the 53-man roster from the practice squad and signed rookie wide receiver Jerrell Jackson to the practice squad Friday.

Elliott had played in 13 games and started one for the Jaguars this season. He caught 10 passes for 108 yards.

Pasztor was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 17 after the undrafted rookie from Virginia was a victim of the Minnesota Vikings' final cuts before the season.

Jackson, a rookie free agent from Missouri, was with Houston during the preseason and waived during its final cuts.
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