Thursday, 16 August 2012 07:10

Judge wants Vilma, NFL case clarity, Saints want victory over Jaguars

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spag-vitt2-newOn Friday, the New Orleans Saints play the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Mercedes Benz Superdome.  On the same day, the lawyers for Jonathan Vilma and the NFL must respond to a court-ordered deadline for “clarification” regarding  in court that day whether the NFLPA, the players' union, asked the NFL to delay imposing its discipline on players connected by the league to the Saints 'bounty program' that was in place from 2009 to 2011, according to a league investigation.”


According to James Varney of the Times Picayune, Judge Ginger Berrigan has requested this information by Friday.

 Varney said, “The NFL said it honored that request; Vilma's side contends that, in fact, the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell had already made up its mind the players were guilty and thus the delay in announcing punishments was a sign of bad faith, as were comments he made regarding Vilma's alleged guilt.

To win his defamation argument, Vilma must convince the judge Goodell acted maliciously and with reckless disregard for the truth.”

The date in question is March 21, when Goodell handed down harsh punishments against Saints Coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis, then assistant head coach Joe Vitt, and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Goodell indicated then he was prepared to discipline the players, too, but did not do so because of the NFLPA request.

The court case, in many respects, is the real thing while it matters very little if the New Orleans Saints or the Jacksonville Jaguars win or lose this exhibition match.

Should Vilma prevail, in many respects, the New Orleans Saints will be vindicated although it is still operating under a compromised working environment with suspended coaches including head coach Sean Payton.

The Jacksonville Jaguars could be without starting left tackle Eugene Monroe for Friday's preseason game with the Saints.

Monroe left the practice field on a cart Wednesday after getting hitting the head during drills. Team, doctors were checking him out for a possible concussion, and coach Mike Mularkey says the results will determine whether or not Monroe plays against the Saints.

The Saints are 8 1/2-points favorites.

Zach Strief has been going against the Saints new conventional defense and has noticed some nice changes from the past when Gregg Williams was defensive coordinator.

"It's much harder to get a big play against this defense, than it was against Williams' gambling defense." said Strief, the Saints starting right offensive tackle.

Williams' defense got the Saints a Super Bowl win in his first season, but became a liability after that.

"Steve Spagnuolo, who replaced Williams, is bringing in a more conventional approach and that should be a positive," said Strief.

Strief favors offensive line coach Aaron Kromer taking over as head coach when in interim head coach Joe Vitt begins his suspension at the start of the regular season. Streif believes Kromer will be a  head coach at some point.

"His name came up in connection with a couple of head-coaching jobs in the offseason," said Strief.

Kromer is entering his fifth season with the Saints and brings 22 years of coaching experience to the coaching staff. One of his jobs is designing the blocking schemes for the running backs.

The Saints still haven't announced their succession plan for when Vitt leaves for six games, but it is believed that it will come down to Kromer, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and Spagnuolo, who was head coach of the Rams before joining the Saints.

SOME hither, others yon: Reggie Bush finally returned his 2005 Heisman Trophy nearly two years after the award was vacated because of his involvement in an NCAA scandal at USC. Bush told The Dan Patrick Show that he personally sent the trophy to the Heisman Trust in New York. A spokesman for the Trust confirmed it...Danny Granger, Pacers forward from Metairie bought a home in Los Angeles where he spends his offseasons.  He bought the house from Kevin Williams, executive producer of Dawson's Creek...

Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins said he's praying for interceptions this season after going through 2011 without one. He has been making picks in practices and should get a couple this season with the Saints' new defense. Two years, NFL observers thought Jenkins was a future All-Pro...Hazing rookies at the end of training camps is not what it used to be when the new players were sometimes injured during the hazing.  On Wednesday, several veterans tied several rookies to the goalposts and poured welcomed water on them to cool of  in the the 90s degree heat...Rookie DT Akiem Hicks was sent for food and returned with 360 chicken wings...

On Wednesday a skywriter flew above the Saints practice fields pulling a banner that read "Free Payton." The plane circled the two practices more than eight times before heading eastward. Saints safety Roman Harper told his teammates he paid for the flyover. They knew he was joking. Philip Marshall and Alex Luhrman came up with the idea someone should fly a plane above the Saints facility towing a "Free Payton" banner. Marshall, 54, is an United Airlines pilot based in California who grew up a Saints fan and saw the very first game in 1967. He flew a small private plane from St. Tammy Parish to Metairie carrying the banner. Fans will ask if Marshall plans to fly the banner above Roger Goodell's home in New York...

Tyrann Mathieu's dismissal will affect LSU retailers. By the time LSU was playing Alabama in the BCS title game. Mathieu's jersey was the most popular in college football. Many stores that sell LSU gear haven't received their Nike shipment in yet. But No. 7 was one of three numbers the company is producing on the advice of the Tigers' athletic department (along with No. 8 for QB Zach Mettenberger and No. 42 for RB Michael Ford). Garrett Moore, a sales associate at Tyger Gifts in Metairie, says the store is waiting for its shipment to see how many No. 7s it will have to get rid of. "I'm going to tell them it's the Patrick Peterson jersey again."...

It is reported LSU coach Les Miles advised Tyrann Mathieu to transfer to a smaller school, play there, and enter the NFL draft rather than returning to LSU and the 2013 team. Miles told the "Honey Badger" that reinstatement one year from now would not be guaranteed. Good advice...Voo Doo head coach Pat O'Hara, who has been hospitalized since Aug.7, hopes to be released this week from Tulane Lakeside Hospital. The coach had a routine scope procedure, but acquired a staph infection...Smoothie King Franchises Inc. announced a partnership with Saints TE Jimmy Graham to bring products and promotions to the New Orleans region..He'll learn that making commercials requires a lot of time. Peyton and Eli Manning recently were featured in a Rebok commercial that required 200 takes and 90 minutes of film for a 30-second commercial,,,.

RIP: Jay Handelman, part-time sportswriter for The Times-Picayune, public relations director fro New Orleans Recreation  Department and public relations director of Freeport-McMoRan, died Sunday of cancer at his New Orleans home. He was 77. Services were held at Touro Synagogue....March of Time: Today's birthdays -- Kathie Lee Gifford, 59, and Frank Gifford, 82...The Saints are favored by 8 1/2 over the Jaguars...

A newly designed production studio will open this week at the Benson Tower. The studio offers unobstructed views of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Champions Square. It features a modern set, robotic camera room, multiple edit rooms and additional workspace. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Thursday morning...

The National Basketball Retired Players Association, in town this weekend, will donate $25,000 to the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission to help fund painting of the basketball courts at the newly reconstructed Oliver Bush Playground. The NBRPA, in town for its annual Legends World Sports Conference, will present a check to the city of New Orleans at A.L.  Davis Playground....Thought of the day: "Be yourself...Everyone else is already taken."... 


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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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