Sunday, 01 July 2012 12:40

New Orleans Saints Vilma’s 2nd bounty lawsuit cites Cerullo, wants TRO

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vilmaNew Orleans Saints Vilma’s 2nd bounty lawsuit cites Cerullo, wants TRO

According to the Associated Press, Saints suspended linebacker filed a civil action on Saturday night at the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana attacking among other things the 13-days-amd-counting delay in the issuance of a decision after the hearing in which Vilma didn't present a substantial defense.

The lawsuit filed Saturday night in U.S. District Court in New Orleans also asks for a temporary restraining order to allow Vilma to continue working if Goodell upholds the suspension.

In his latest attack on the NFL's handling of the bounty probe, Vilma contends punished players have only been able to see less than 1 percent of 50,000 pages of documents the league said it has compiled. His suit also claims that the few key pieces of evidence the league shared are flawed, including printed reproductions of handwritten notes.

The complaint specifically states that a decision should have come by Monday, June 25, the first business day after the record of evidence was closed.

At issue is whether one suspected NFL witness has recanted his statement to the league in the bounty matter.

Vilma contends that the NFL claims have been withheld to protect the identity of their author, were created by former Saints defensive assistant coach Mike Cerullo. Vilma alleges that Cerullo had been fired by the Saints after the 2009 season, and that Cerullo "resented that the Super Bowl ring he received had been made with imitation (cubis zirconia) diamonds." The notes, per Vilma, were created "well after the 2009 NFC Championship Game and in an effort to gain revenge against the Saints.

However, according to Mike Freeman of CBS sports, in a tweet Sunday morning,
“NFL spokesman: key witnesses have not retracted bounty testimony. This in response to Vilma saying former Saints coach retracted statement.”

The lawsuit attacks the evidence on which NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell relied in making the initial suspension decision, claiming Goodell "undermined" the integrity of the NFL and the Commissioner's office by relying on flawed and/or unsubstantiated evidence.

The league responded to the new lawsuit, via a statement emailed to Pro Football Talk.

"We have not yet had an opportunity to review Mr. Vilma's improper effort to litigate a matter he committed to a collective bargained process," the league said via NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. "There is no basis for asking a federal court to substitute its judgement for the procedures agreed upon by the NFL and NFLPA, procedures that have been in place, and have served the game well for decades.

Vilma believes he has enough evidence to get his suspension overturned. He wants it overturned because he wants to play a few more seasons before turning his efforts to being a color analyst for NFL games on television.

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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