|Vilma v. Goodell, Part II. (US PRESSWIRE)|
In May, shortly after Roger Goodell suspended Jonathan Vilma for the 2012 season for his role in the Saints bounty scandal, the New Orleans linebacker filed a defamation lawsuit against the NFL commissioner.
It's been nearly two weeks since Vilma and his lawyer walked out of a grievance hearing with Goodell, and Saturday night Vilma filed another lawsuit against the NFL, this time claiming that Goodell failed to make a timely appeal ruling for the Vilma's year-long suspension, the Associated Press reports.
More details via the AP:
The lawsuit … also asks for a temporary restraining order to allow Vilma to continue working if Goodell upholds the suspension. The suit contends Goodell has undermined "the integrity of the NFL and the Commissioner's office" by handing down punishments to Vilma and others based on evidence that is either flawed or cannot be substantiated.
Vilma's latest suit contends that the players accused in the bounty scandal have only seen less than one percent of the 18,000 documents the NFL says it has. The linebacker also suggests that some of the league's evidence is flawed, including typed copies of handwritten notes implicating the players in the pay-for-pay scheme.
"The NFL's alteration of other documents evidences that the NFL cannot substantiate the suspension, and undermines the integrity of the process," Vilma's suit states.
Specifically, the lawsuit asserts that former Saints assistant coach Mike Cerullo had an axe to grind with the organization after he was fired following the 2009 season. Cerullo also allegedly resented that his Super Bowl ring was made with cubic zirconia instead of diamonds. The suit states that Cerullo created the handwritten document "well after the 2009 NFC Championship game and in an effort to gain revenge against the Saints."
There's more: Vilma's suit contends that a "close associate" of Cerullo has confirmed that Cerullo retracted his previous claims about the bounty program "in a communication directly with Goodell that occurred in April 2012." However, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello has denied that any of the key witnesses in the bounty investigation have retracted their statements.
Finally, Vilma says that the league has instructed former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was suspended indefinitely for his role in the bounty scheme, to not speak with suspended players, coaches, or officials as a condition of his reinstatement at some point in the future.
In an email to ProFootballTalk.com, the league calls Vilma's latest lawsuit "improper."
“We have not yet had an opportunity to review Mr. Vilma's improper effort to litigate a matter that is committed to a collectively bargained process,” Aiello said. “There is no basis for asking a federal court to substitute its judgment for the procedures agreed upon by the NFL and NFLPA, procedures that have been in place, and have served the game well, for decades.”
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