Jonathan Vilma: 'I intend to fight this injustice'
We didn’t hear a whole lot from Jonathan Vilma after the NFL released news that it had information the New Orleans Saints linebacker had ponied up in playoff games for anyone that could knock Kurt Warner or Brett Favre out.
Now that Vilma has been suspended for the entire 2012 season, he’s spoken up in a big way. Vilma got hit hardest and he has denied offering to pay $10,000 for anyone to knock the quarterbacks out as part of the team/s bounty program that was run by ex-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
“I am shocked and extremely disappointed by the NFL's decision to suspend me for the 2012 season,” Vilma said in his statement, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “Commissioner Roger Goodell has refused to share any of the supposed evidence he claims supports this unprecedented punishment. The reason is clear: I never paid, or intended to pay, $10,000, or any amount of money, to any player for knocking Kurt Warner, Brett Favre or any other player, out of the 2009 divisional playoff game, 2010 NFC Championship Game, or any other game. I never set out to intentionally hurt any player and never enticed any teammate to intentionally hurt another player. I also never put any money into a bounty pool or helped to create a bounty pool intended to pay out money for injuring other players. I have always conducted myself in a professional and proud manner.
“I intend to fight this injustice, to defend my reputation, to stand up for my team and my profession and to send a clear signal to the commissioner that the process has failed, to the detriment of me, my teammates, the New Orleans Saints and the game.”
Challenging the NFL in this insistence is going to be next to impossible for Vilma and anyone else. Goodell has power, through the collective bargaining agreement, to discipline players. It just so happens Vilma was socked with the stiffest penalty. Vilma says he is shocked but can he really be? He saw the penalties handed down for Williams, Saints coach Sean Payton and others. He had to know the other shoe was going to drop.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune