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Vilma asks court to continue defamation suit against Goodell

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Saints' bounty case, determined Tuesday that Vilma's season-long suspension and bans for three others players should be rescinded.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.

In recent hearings, former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams testified he never saw any money.

"Williams has always told Goodell and continues to state that there was never any cash put up for a bounty on any player. It was 'just talk,'" Vilma said in his filing. "Nonetheless, Goodell irresponsibly chose to contend that Vilma walked around with $10,000 before the Cardinals game."

Ginsberg also has sought to discredit Cerullo's competence with testimony from Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who claimed that coach Sean Payton once arranged for police protection for his family while away on a trip because he feared Cerullo might hurt them.
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