Trending Topics

Jonathan Vilma Denies Any Role In Alleged Bounty Program

Suspended New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, in his dogged quest to be reinstated to the NFL for this season, two former teammates and Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt have all told a federal judge under oath Thursday that Vilma never put up cash for tackles that injured opponents.

Vilma is trying to persuade U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan to temporarily allow him to return to the Saints while his lawsuit against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell proceeds.

Goodell has suspended Vilma a full season for what the NFL has said was his leadership role in a bounty program. Vilma has also taken other legal steps against Goodell, claiming the commission has stained his reputation.

Linebacker Troy Evans and defensive back Randall Gay are among the retired players who testified on Vilma’s behalf. Last week, quarterback Drew Brees spoke at length about Vilma’s character.

Vilma has also testified that his suspension, and the harm it has done his reputation, is hindering his rehabilitation from knee surgery, as well as his ability get financing for side businesses and raise money for his charitable school-building projects in Haiti.

Several current Saints defensive players were slated to testify later in Thursday’s hearing.

Vilma and his attorneys emerged from the three-hour-long conference with U.S. Magistrate Daniel Knowles III without commenting on whether progress was made toward resolution of the case. The meeting was closed to the public.

In a court filing on Monday, Knowles said a settlement could not  be reached “at this time.” But he instructed the parties to contact him “at any stage of the proceeding if an additional settlement conference would be beneficial.”

Peter Ginsberg, one of Vilma’s attorneys, said only that the group “went through the settlement process” and that he expects “things will move along.”

Vilma declined to comment on the talks, but said, “I want the team to do well, and I want to be part of the team.”

Back to top