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Roger Goodell given until July 5 to respond to defamation suit

A Louisiana court has given NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell until July 5 to respond to the defamation lawsuit filed against him by New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

The request was granted May 29. Requests of this nature -- and extensions -- are commonplace, according to a source with knowledge of this situation.

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No reason for Goodell's request was divulged, but multiple sources said this procedure is routine. Vilma filed a lawsuit May 17 in Louisiana District Court claiming Goodell defamed him after suspending him for his role in the Saints' "bounty" program. Vilma claimed in an interview with NFL.com's Ian Rapoport on Thursday that he was not involved in a bounty program, and said he wants to see the league's evidence against him. The lawsuit has been assigned to Judge Ginger Berrigan, but no court date has been set.

Vilma has been suspended for the season. Defensive end Will Smith (four games) and former Saints defenders Anthony Hargrove (eight games) and Scott Fujita (three) also were suspended. No other players have pursued lawsuits.

All four players have appealed to Goodell. The NFL Players Association argued two grievances in front of arbitrators in May challenging Goodell's authority to punish the players.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.

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