The lawyer for New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma did not mince any words when discussing his client's season-long suspension Tuesday, equating the NFL's disciplinary process to a "kangaroo court."
In a conversation with WWL-AM radio in New Orleans on Tuesday, Peter Ginsberg said the league has treated Vilma unfairly by failing to show him evidence that he participated in the Saints' "bounty" program, according to The Times-Picayune.
"The fact that we haven't received a single piece of evidence from (Commissioner Roger Goodell) not only makes the whole process suspect but made it important that we ask the commissioner as specifically as we possibly could what we think we should be able to see in order to even the playing field and in order to give Jonathan a fair hearing," Ginsberg said. "And I must say that the commissioner still hasn't responded to this most recent request. This is not the first time we have asked them for the evidence."
Ginsberg suggested that the league does not have concrete evidence of Vilma's wrongdoing.
"The evidence is not what the commissioner says it is," Ginsberg said. "At the end of the day, I think all of you will come to the conclusion that what the commissioner has been accusing Jonathan and the others of doing is not correct. It's not accurate. It was said publicly in an irresponsible manner. I think that's why we haven't received the evidence. And I think that's the commissioner's biggest fear that at some point we will find the right forum that will make the commissioner answer for what he's said and what he's done."
Ginsberg said that the league's dismissal of his requests to see the evidence "puts into perspective the kangaroo court that Jonathan and the others have been subjected to."
Vilma was suspended for the season by the NFL after it found that he played a major role in a bounty program run by the Saints from 2009 to 2011. Anthony Hargrove (currently with the Green Bay Packers), Will Smith (still with the Saints) and Scott Fujita (currently with the Cleveland Browns) were suspended for the first eight, four and three games of the 2012 season, respectively, for their roles in the Saints' program.
Vilma is appealing his suspension, while Fujita, Hargrove and Smith have filed a notice reserving their right to appeal.
Vilma flatly denied paying teammates to injure opponents, as the league is accusing him of doing, in a statement released after his punishment was announced.
The league also disciplined Saints management for their roles in the scandal. Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was banned indefinitely and current coach Sean Payton was suspended for the 2012 season.
Mary Jo White, a former U.S. Attorney who was hired by the NFL to review its investigation of the bounty program, told NFL.com's Steve Wyche that the league's evidence was "solid" earlier this month, saying that she'd gotten criminal convictions with less.