|Vilma's reportedly bracing for the worst. (Getty Images)|
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has already punished Saints coaches Sean Payton, Joe Vitt and former coach Gregg Williams; general manager Mickey Loomis; and the organization for their collective roles in the bounty scandal. The damage: a year's suspension for Payton, six games for Vitt, an indefinite suspension for Williams, eight games for Loomis, and for the franchise a $500,000 fine and two lost second-round picks (2012 and 2013).
But Goodell isn't done. There were players that had to carry out Williams' orders to injure opponents and one of them, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, could find out his fate by the end of the week. He's bracing for a suspension that could range anywhere from two to eight games, sources told NFL Network's Jason La Canfora Monday.
The NFLPA released a statement Monday morning indicating that they knew about the audio recordings of Williams urging his defense to take 49ers players that were released to the public days before Goodell ruled on the appeals of Payton, Vitt and Loomis.
“We learned of the tape as part of our effort to obtain any and all information related to an alleged pay-to-injure scheme," the statement read in part. "We had no control of the content and did not make a determination on the method of its release. To date, the NFL has not provided the NFLPA with detailed evidence of the existence of such a program.”
In March, a source told CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman that Vilma offered $10,000 to any teammate who knocked then-Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship Game.
As PFT.com's Mike Florio wrote Monday, "The allegation about Vilma putting up $10,000 ... is damning, but a fight over whether there is direct evidence of such a scheme could wind up working out well for Vilma's attempt to avoid a long suspension."
Whatever happens, the Saints have contingency plans: they signed linebackers Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne, which led to this awkward Twitter exchange between Vilma and Sports Illustrated's Peter King.
Concerning the NFLPA's possible claim that there isn't enough evidence to punish Vilma, this is where we point out that, in the new collective bargaining agreement, the players agreed to let Goodell maintain full control of all disciplines handed down under the personal conduct policy. So don't be surprised if he comes down hard on Vilma.
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