"I am shocked and extremely disappointed by the NFL's decision to suspend me for the 2012 season," Vilma's statement, in all caps, read. "Commissioner Roger Goodell has refused to share any of the supposed evidence he claims supports this unprecedented punishment."
Vilma maintains he's never had anything to do with bounties, but let's now circle back to that explosive Yahoo! report from last summer that exposed ugliness at the University of Miami, Vilma's alma mater.
According to the report, Vilma was the recipient of multiple impermissible benefits during his successful run with the Hurricanes from 2000 to 2003. In addition to meals, drinks, entertainment, cash gifts and more, Vilma reportedly received $2,250 in bounty payout from imprisoned former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro.
Shapiro reinstituted Luther Campbell's infamous bounty program in Miami, setting players' sights on rivals Florida and Florida State.
The booster put out bounties on Tim Tebow and had a three-year standing bounty on Seminoles quarterback Chris Rix from 2002 to 2004. A hit that knocked Rix from the game paid $5,000.
âWe pounded the (expletive) out of that kid,â Shapiro said of Rix. âWatch the tape of those games. Youâll see so many big hits on him. Guys were all going after that $5,000 in cash. Vilma tried to kill him -- just crushed him -- a couple of times trying to get that $5,000. And he almost got it, too.â
Yes, it's possibly Vilma is wrongly implicated in this instance as well. But there sure seems like a lot of smoke here for there not to be any fire.