|Vitt has showed his strong support for Vilma. (US Presswire)|
With suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma filing a motion to expedite his injunction hearing that he hopes will allow him to play this season, he's receiving some help from some of his colleagues.
As WWLTV.com's Bradley Handwerger notes, Saints interim coach Joe Vitt and Saints trainer Scottie Patton have filed affidavits in support of Vilma, who's been suspended for the 2012 season by commissioner Roger Goodell.
Although the NFL filed a memorandum of opposition Tuesday to Vilma's latest attempt to get the courts to overturn his suspension, Vitt -- himself suspended for the first six games of the season because of his role in the bounty program -- writes that the loss of Vilma will jeopardize the entire Saints organization for 2012. Plus, the affidavits argue that Vilma needs to continue rehabbing from knee surgery at the Saints facility in order for him to continue his career.
“One of my major concerns, from knowing and working with Mr. Vilma for so many years, is that Mr. Vilma will push himself too hard if I am not around to check his progress and keep him under control,” Patton wrote in the affidavit. “… Mr. Vilma will be at a greater risk of re-injury and stymied recovery if we cannot closely supervise him.”
We've talked in the past about how we haven't heard much lately from the suspended Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis or Gregg Williams, and that's probably because they fear that if they say anything inflammatory about the bounty investigation or about the league, Goodell will hold that against them.
Even Drew Brees made mention of it last month by saying this, “I have pretty good knowledge and feel like I've been informed that a lot of those coaches feel like there are further sanctions that are being held over their heads if they don't quote-unquote cooperate with the investigation. Even though punishment has already been levied on the coaches and already been determined ... I think they feel if they speak out on behalf of the players, that's being held over their head."
Apparently, that does not go for Vitt, who's already wondered aloud if the bounty program evidence was tampered with or falsified.
In his affidavit, Vitt wrote that he was looking forward to being “able to provide substantive and truthful testimony and information about the allegations made by Mr. Goodell regarding the so-called but non-existent Bounty Program, and to refute that the Saints ever had a Bounty Program…”
Vitt also said this: “Mr. Vilma, to be clear, is one of the finest, fairest and most decent people I have ever known, both in and out of football and has been an ambassador for our game.”
The hearing for Vilma has been moved from Sept. 1 to July 26, just as his teammates begin training camp. Here's the rest of the schedule for Vilma this month, via Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane sports law program.
Here's the reset on the Vilma suit: NFL opposition motion due 7/20, settlement conference 7/23,Saints camp opens 7/24, TRO hearing 7/26.— Gabe Feldman (@SportsLawGuy) July 17, 2012
Hey, at least Vilma already has one small victory.