New Orleans Saints  

 

Jonathan Vilma, others arrive for 'bounty' appeals

NEW YORK -- New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma arrived at NFL offices, along with his lawyer Peter Ginsberg, at roughly 9:30 a.m. ET Monday for his appeal hearing before Commissioner Roger Goodell. The hearing was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET.

Vilma, suspended for the season for his role in the Saints "bounty" scandal, said he was unsure if he'll get to see the evidence against him when he meets with Goodell for the first time since the onset of the investigation.

"We'll see," said Vilma about the information he said the league has yet to show him in regards to his suspension.

Vilma was the first player to arrive for the appeal hearing. Suspended Saints defensive end Will Smith (four games) and former Saints players Anthony Hargrove (eight games) and Scott Fujita (three games) are scheduled to have their appeal hearings as well.

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The three players released a statement Monday morning through the NFL Players Association.

"We have purportedly been disciplined by the Commissioner for alleged activities that the National Football League has grossly misrepresented to the public," the statement reads. "We are in attendance today not because we recognize the Commissioner's jurisdiction to adjudicate regarding these specious allegations, but because we believe the league would attempt to publicly mischaracterize our refusal to attend. We will not address the substance of the NFL's case because this is not the proper venue for adjudication, and there has been no semblance of due process afforded to us.

"As veteran players of 11, 9 and 9 years in this League, we are profoundly disappointed with the NFL's conduct in this matter. We know what the NFL has publicly said we did, and the Commissioner has chosen to try to punish us and disparage our characters based on semantics, not facts. Words are cheap and power is fleeting."

Goodell, league counsel Jeff Pash, senior vice president of Law and Labor Policy Adolpho Birch, NFL Security members and advisor Mary Jo White, who has reviewed the evidence, will represent the NFL. Ginsberg, as well as attorneys from the NFLPA, will represent the players.

The appeals hearing is expected to run several hours. No ruling is expected Monday.

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