July 5, 2012

Goodell Denies Appeals, Battle Heads On In Courts

With yesterday's denial of the bounty suspension appeals by Roger Goodell, MLB Jonathan Vilma has furthered his battle in court, filing an injunction against the suspension to go along with his defamation lawsuit against Goodell.

In an offseason that has seen Vilma, Will Smith, Drew Brees, the Saints' coaches and front office all challenge NFL commissioner Goodell, in or outside the confines of the CBA.

It is that Collective Bargaining Agreement that gave Goodell the authority to enforcement punishments on members of the NFL Players Association that he stands firm on.  In the legal system, the NFL will continue to argue that players don't have the power to challenge the NFL outside of the disciplinary proceedings of the CBA.

In Vilma's latest lawsuit, he fingers former assistant coach Mike Cerullo for creating false documents that gave the NFL their proof against Vilma, DE Will Smith and ex-Saints DT Anthony Hargrove and LB Scott Fujita. Vilma's court filing argues that Cerullo, who received a cubic zirconium version of the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV ring, manufactured the evidence to see revenge.

Vilma is suspended from the league for a year while the other Saints and ex-Saints are suspended only for portions of the season, a punishment which Goodell refused to lower upon appeal.

In Goodell's statement, he wrote "None of you has offered any evidence that would warrant reconsideration of your suspensions... Instead, your lawyers raised a series of jurisdictional and procedural objections that generally ignore the CBA, in particular its provisions governing ‘conduct detrimental’ determinations…"

Goodell's statement put the onus on the players to avoid their lawyers and to come back to him with proof of innocence. "While this decision constitutes my final and binding determination under the CBA, I of course

retain the inherent authority to reduce a suspension should facts be brought to my attention warranting the exercise of that discretion. The record confirms that each of you was given multiple chances to meet with me to present your side of the story. You are each still welcome to do so."

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