Friday, 17 August 2012 04:59

Vilma-NFL case deadline as New Orleans Saints, Jaguars vie

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goodellThe New Orleans Saints will play Jacksonville Jaguars in its third exhibition game tonight at the Mercedes Benz Superdome but some believe the real showdown could be the evidence the Vilma presents to the court in its case.

The question is--did NFL commissioner Roger Goodell prejudge New Orleans Saints Jonathan Vilma’s “bounty” activity when it punished Vilma and other Saints?

It is possible that based upon the evidence and the law, the judge might dismiss Vilma’s cases therefore bar him from having his real day in court to show he was unfairly and wrongfully treated.



The bounty issue becomes even more important since New Orleans hosts the Superbowl game after this season and many fans and players want some sense of finality to the issue. e

Goodell and the NFL have said no and have filed evidence to support its claim.

The judge in the lawsuit against Goodell and the NFL has required that both parties submit its evidence on this issue.

According to the AP, “The NFL on Thursday provided a federal judge with what it says is evidence Commissioner Roger Goodell did not improperly pre-judge the four players suspended in the bounty investigation.

The evidence includes a copy of a letter the NFL Players Association sent the league on March 7 asking Goodell to delay punishment of players implicated in the bounty probe.

It also includes a sworn declaration from Goodell in which he states he was prepared to hand down player discipline at the same time he announced suspensions for coaches and executives on March 21. Goodell's declaration states he held off after verbally agreeing to do so in a phone conversation with union head DeMaurice Smith.

Attorneys for Jonathan Vilma, who has sued separately, and NFLPA lawyers representing the three other punished players have argued Goodell showed improper bias with comments he made before sending the players notice of their suspensions on May 2.

Attorneys for the players have been given until Friday to file their own evidence and briefs on the matter.

Vilma's consolidated lawsuits include a defamation claim against Goodell. Vilma's attorney, Peter Ginsberg, has argued Goodell made reckless and false statements about Vilma being the ringleader of a bounty program that offered cash for injuring targeted opponents.

Vilma has asked U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan to grant a temporary restraining order that would allow him to return to the Saints while his case proceeds, and the judge has said she would be inclined to rule in his favor, but will hold off until she is comfortable she has jurisdiction to do so.

As the Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout reached its 21st day, the Jaguars continued to make plans without him.

Coach Mike Mularkey said Wednesday that Montell Owens has won the backup running back job even though he has carried the ball just 14 times in his six-year career, including 10 last season.

Rashad Jennings , who was slated to be the backup running back, became the starter in Jones-Brees' absence.

Thursday, August 16, 2012: Media conference with acting  head coach, Joe Vitt


How long are the starters going to play?

“We discussed that last night. We will discuss that with the starters. They will go longer than they did in the last game. There is a natural progression of getting our guys in shape. It will be a little bit longer than they did last game.”

Would you script plays for the second half of a preseason game?

“Yes. What you want to try to do is know the guys that you have playing in a game and try to script for success. We asked those guys to do what they do best. (You) put them in a position to succeed so you can properly evaluate them. We will continue to do that. We have really done that all through the preseason.”

With the script, will a variety of blitz packages be on display?

“Obviously, we are working on things that are going to be our base stuff for the whole season so we have to execute those properly so we will continue to expand on that. You are not going improve on it much running them in the preseason so we will continue to expand on them and still run them.”

Do remember your first game in the dome before you were a Saints coach?

“Let me think. It may have been when I was with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1995. No, I tell you what, I take that back. No, it was. I remember when I was in Green Bay, we had a preseason game here one time and it was on grass. I don’t know if anybody remembers that, they brought grass into the dome. Would that have been 1999? 1998? I take that back. I am going to say it was 1985 with the Seattle Seahawks. I think that we played an opener down here and lost 33-31. It was a shoot-out.”

Do you remember anything about the noise level or the atmosphere?

“You talk about structures like the Superdome, and I’ll go back to the old Kingdome in Seattle, when you have those cement structures that just holds the noise in, I think they are hard to play in. Our dome is one of those places that, I don’t care if you are coaching offense or defense or you’re a visitor or you’re a home team, you have a headache after the game. There have been a number of occasions where I go home at night and I can’t hear normally until about ten o’clock at night. Then you have a ringing in your ear until probably Monday or Tuesday of that week. That was usually sign that we played pretty good and the crowd was excited so you don’t mind having that feeling. I don’t know, and I know I am biased, I don’t know of a tougher venue to play then our building right now with our fans. I know I am biased but I believe that. I believe there are a lot of teams in the league that believe that too.”

Are Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles at the top of the list of players who create matchup issues?

“There is no doubt. When you have a big-bodied guy like Jimmy Graham that can go out and have matchup problems with a corner, have matchup problems with a safety, and you know you have matchup problems with a linebacker. Then you have the same thing with Darren Sproles. It is kind of interesting, when Darren Sproles comes in to the game, how are people looking at him. Are they treating him as a wide receiver and are they going to bring their nickel in? Well, if they don’t bring their nickel in, you are going to motion him out to the perimeter and you are going to guarantee a matchup on a linebacker. It’s a chess match and those two guys give you the affordability to do a lot of different things.”

Anybody else on the Saints team?

“Yeah, I think there is. But, listen, I don’t want to blow these horns too early. We like (Travaris) Cadet, he can create mismatches but he has to keep on doing it. We have to go through the evaluation process. I think this, I think today’s defenses are all matchup oriented by personnel or like-people. I think that is one of the things our offense has done well with. Then you have a guy like Drew Brees that identifies the coverage so early in the down and goes to that mismatch and gets the ball out.”

Can you say who is definitely out?

“Turk McBride is not going to play. Nick Toon is not going to play. Jabari Greer is not going to play.”

What about Jimmy Graham?

“Yeah, he is playing. He’s had a good week.”

What about Darren Sproles?


Do you expect teams to run at lighter defensive ends like Martez Wilson and Junior Galette on first downs?

“I am going to go back and I am going to bring up this point to you: when I was in Philadelphia, we drafted a kid named Mike Mamula out of Boston College that was 230 pounds and a defensive end. He was our right defensive end. William Thomas, who was a Pro Bowl linebacker, played behind him and he was 215 pounds. The left side, we had William Fuller and Bill Romanowski. People are so left handed oriented and run to the left side behind their power that those two guys were never tested. I think when you put guys like that in the game, you are aware what the power side is and what isn’t the power side and then you get them in for the proper matchups.”

With training camp wrapping up, do you feel that you have gotten everything done that you had hoped?

“Yeah. Listen, you always go back and you have a wish list. Our guys have worked hard. We got a lot accomplished. We got the situational periods that we wanted to get down. I think our conditioning is good. We are going to continue to grow. This is kind of a new experience for us with the way the training camp format is now. I would have a hard time believing that anybody in the league worked harder than we did Wednesday morning. When it was hot, we went goal-line and had a lot of live periods. So far, so good. The guys have worked hard.”




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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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