Jonathan Vilma and attorney cut appeal hearing short Monday, call it a 'sham'

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer
Vilma and his attorney walked out of the appeal and called it a 'sham.' (AP)

On Monday, the NFL began hearing the appeals of Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith. Things took an ugly turn early Monday morning, with the latter three players releasing a statement questioning the NFL's honor and their ability to receive due process.

Surprisingly, Vilma and his attorney Peter Ginsberg cut the linebacker's appeal short after just about an hour and emerged from the NFL headquarters, calling the process a "sham."

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"We got upstairs and the Commissioner has tried to regroup by adjourning today's hearing after we presented our position with regard to the process and with regard to the merits," Ginsberg said. "We're not willing to participate in that kind of sham.

"The Commissioner had legal obligations and procedural obligations. He failed in those obligations and as far as we're concerned these proceedings are over."

According to Ginsberg, it was he and Vilma who decided to shut down the appeals process -- the league attempted to adjourn for the day but Vilma and Ginsberg weren't interested.

"He attempted to adjourn it and we closed the record," Ginsberg said. "The hearing is over as far as we're concerned."

Asked whether or not he believed Vilma could return to hear more on the appeal later, Ginsberg said that Vilma's attempts to win in the NFL's venue for appeals -- with the Commissioner -- were over.

"For more abuse of the process and more abuse of Jonathan's rights? No, we've decided enough is enough," Ginsberg said.

Vilma's attorney made it quite clear, without explicitly saying so, that moving the venue to an actual courtroom was entirely a possibility moving forward. Vilma himself said that Goodell's decision and the NFL's procedure tarnished his reputation and that he felt unable to "get a fair process."

"Roger Goodell has taken three months to tarnish what I built over eight years in my career and it's tough to swallow that from here on out no matter where I go, I'll be linked to a BountyGate that's simply not true," Vilma said. "Everyone has their opinions on it and everyone will either believe me or not believe me. There's no in between. It's unfortunate that this process has been the way it is, and the situation has been the way it is because at the end, it's just not true."

"I don't know how you get a fair process when you get [Roger Goodell as] judge, jury and executioner."

 
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