Monday, 18 June 2012 00:52

Vilma, Attorney, claim NFL coverup as Goodell's bounty hearings interrupted

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The New Orleans Saints bounty hearing has started with a delay and a slam.  After all, this is football.

Here are tweets from James Varney of the Times Picayune who has been following the on and off hearings of the day at NFL headquarters.


Vilma attorney: "it's clear the commissioner has withheld thousands of pages of documents from us." [via Twitter]





In addition to saying evidence ridiculously thin, players side says turned over too late. [via Twitter]


Vilma attorney: "it's clear the commissioner has withheld thousands of pages of documents from us." [via Twitter]" border="0" height="19" width="57">



What's being withheld, Vilma team says, would in fact be exculpatory for Vilma and other suspended players. [via Twitter]



In addition to saying evidence ridiculously thin, players side says turned over too late. [via Twitter]

Here is an article from the Miami Herald--with a slightly different version of the facts


Saints bounties: Vilma hearing breaks up


Saints player Jonathan Vilma has left an NFL hearing to appeal his season-long suspension for participating in the Saints' bounty program, with the linebacker saying the process is not fair.
Vilma's attorney, Peter Ginsberg, says the NFL requested an adjournment to Monday afternoon, but he and Vilma refused. Ginsberg says Commissioner Roger Goodell failed to present the evidence on which he based his decision to impose the player's suspension.
Vilma says he doesn't know how he can get a fair hearing when Goodell is "judge, jury and executioner."



The NFL kangaroo court continues today in New York in bountygate as the New Orleans Saints players entered the NFL headquarters today for their appeal hearings on the Pay-for Play allegations against the team.


Entering the headquarters, the Vilma team was talkative but tentative.  The other Saints and their attorneys were mum.


Here are tweets from the Times Picayune, through Jim Varney:



Camped by NFL HQ for Saints appeal hearing. The vets on these stakeouts tell me unusual to not see NFL execs arriving. But today, nada. [via Twitter]




Jon Vilma arrived. Says last few months v difficult for him. "Its just a wave and you have to ride it." [via Twitter]" border="0" height="17" width="57">



Vilma said he feels strong & wishes he could focus on football. "But that's easier said than done, unfortunately." [via Twitter]


Vilma & attorney Peter Ginsberg said they don't know what to expect today. League sources say, "we could be here a while." [via Twitter]




Will Smith and Anthony Hargrove decline comment entering NFL HQ. Fujita also mum. Union says three don't plan speaking at hearing [via Twitter]

Adam Schefter of ESPN writes that the NFL's evidence against the suspended Saints players, coaches and former Saints players included emails from Sean Payton's close friend and confidant, Mike Ornstein, sent from prison, offering up bounties for hits.

Yet according to multiple sources familiar with the situation, Ornstein insisted his emails were jokes, and he unsuccessfully attempted to convince Goodell of this during their conversations.

According to two sources whom have seen it, Ornstein gave the NFL and the NFLPA a text that he said came from Gregg Williams saying, "I stood up for you and told them just that, I told them we never took that stuff serious. I never saw you ever game money and that's just the truth."

The text is expected to be used as evidence on Monday during the suspensions appeals.

Documentary filmmaker Sean Pamphilon isn't convinced the Saints operated the pay-to-injure bounty system that led to the suspension of four players.

Yet for all the tough talk he heard from Gregg Williams about brutalizing 49ers targets, Pamphilon told USA TODAY, "I don't think the players should be punished, unless the league can actually prove it."

The players -- Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith -- have an appeals hearing before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday at league headquarters in New York.

Now, after the filmmaker approached the NFL and offered his cooperation for its investigation, his full, unedited audiotape is part of the league's evidence in the case.

"If the NFL had such a slam-dunk case, why would evidence that was just presented to them weeks ago be part of this?" said Pamphilon. "It shows me how thin their case is."

The league will call the suspensions justice because for the NFL justice consists of being the ultimate authority on all matters relating directly or indirectly to its business.

True justice consists of a neutral, objective party getting to the truth, especially when the truth is hotly contested.

Justice likely won't happen in the NFL office in New York on Monday when Goodell begins the process of taking a second look at the players' suspensions.

It's likely the suspended players won't get a fair chance to establish their innocence on Monday.

Hargrove's agent questions why, exactly, did the NFL hand down the suspensions. Agent Phil Williams asked in a statement to the league office – and shared with the media – whether the 200 pages of evidence the NFL showed to the NFLPA aren't really enough to constitute real evidence of wrongdoing.

Don't look for Goodell to change his mind about the suspensions.

Webb Who?

Webb Simpson won the U. S. Open on Sunday for the first major championship of his career. During the trophy presentation, as Simpson was being interviewed by Bob Costas, a rather odd-looking gentleman sporting a Union Jack hat, entered the frame and began squawking like a bird. You can't make this stuff up, people. Simpson's comment as the birdman was being hauled off by security, was "Enjoy the jail cell, pal." So long as he's still wearing that hat and doing bird calls, I believe he will. Maybe he didn't know birdies stopped after the tournament was over...Stony Book's Cinderella story ended on Friday when the Seawolves lost to Florida State 9-1 in the College World Series. Stony Brook was outscored 21-3 in their two qames at Omaha. This will stun LSU fans even more after the Tigers were beaten by the Seawolves in the super regional...

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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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