New Orleans Saints  

 

Jonathan Vilma files motion to vacate suspension

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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Jonathan Vilma is again asking a federal judge to overturn his suspension in the NFL's bounty probe of the New Orleans Saints.

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In papers filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans on Monday, Vilma says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell engaged in a "farcical review" of his previously vacated disciplinary action before reaffirming the Saints linebacker's full-season ban last week.

Although Vilma has an appeal pending within the framework of the NFL's labor agreement, the linebacker argues that Goodell has continued to abuse his power and demonstrate bias, leaving no hope for a fair process that would respect Vilma's "industrial due process rights."

Vilma also asks U.S. District court Judge Ginger Berrigan to bar Goodell from handling any further action in the bounty matter and appoint a neutral arbitrator.

The NFLPA, which also filed papers Monday, is representing Smith, Hargrove and Fujita. Vilma has his own lawyers, Peter Ginsberg and Duke Williams.

All four players have already asked Goodell to recuse himself from the NFL appeals process, but he has so far refused. The NFLPA points out that although Goodell was given the power in the league's current labor agreement to discipline players for conduct detrimental to the game, he may only do so if he complies with "governing legal standards."

The union said Goodell violated those standards by talking publicly about the players' alleged wrongdoing before the disciplinary process had begun, and by failing to consider conflicting witness testimony or mischaracterizations of evidence by league investigators.

The NFL has not responded to the request of the players for Goodell to recuse himself from the process. The NFLPA has not asked for that condition in any hearing since August, while Vilma formally asked for it in his Friday appeal.

Considering the lack of a response, a union source told NFL.com and NFL Network reporter Albert Breer that, "The NFLPA is taking that as a rejection to that request."

Vilma said Sunday he'll come off of the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list and will play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I'll be allowed to practice, I'll be allowed to play versus Tampa Bay," Vilma told WVUE-TV, according to the Times-Picayune.

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Vilma found himself on the PUP list on Week 2 with a knee injury, after a three-team panel dismissed the initial season-long suspension imposed against him for his connection to the Saints bounty scandal.

The Saints linebacker has had numerous procudures a his left knee, which has been bothersome dating back to last season.

"I'm feeling good, feeling good," Vilma said via the Times-Picayune. "I know that the media hasn't seen much of me for a while, but I've actually been working out, working hard, training hard so I can get to this point to be able to give our team a chance to win in Tampa Bay."

The appeals hearings for all four players will take place in New York City next Tuesday, Breer reports, per the NFL

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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