Vilma’s lawyer calls NFL process “a kangaroo court”
On Monday, lawyer Peter Ginsberg submitted a 17-point request to the NFL for information regarding the allegation that Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was involved in a bounty program. On Tuesday, Ginsberg said he has heard nothing in response.
Ginsberg discussed the situation on WWL radio, and he used strong words to describe the league’s investigative process.
“The fact that we haven’t received a single piece of evidence from the Commissioner not only makes the whole process suspect but made it important that we ask the Commissioner as specifically as we possibly could what we think we should be able to see in order to even the playing field and in order to give Jonathan a fair hearing,” Ginsberg said, via Nakia Hogan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “And I must say that the Commissioner still hasn’t responded to this most recent request. This is not the first time we have asked them for the evidence.”
Ginberg also criticized the the league’s public comments regarding the situation.
"[A]s we have seen in the press the last few days that the Commissioner’s office and the Commissioner’s outside counsel have discernibly misrepresented even the information that the Commissioner has gathered,” Ginsberg said. “When you put that in the context of the Commissioner’s high-priced outside counsel saying that when we asked for evidence and when we wanted to know what we were answering to -- and this is [outside counsel Mary Jo White’s] quote ‘a red herring,’ it really puts into perspective the kangaroo court that Jonathan and the others have been subjected to.
“I can’t think of any other forum in the United States where this kind of abusive process is permitted. If you want to ask me why it is permitted, you are asking the wrong person. I wasn’t a part of the CBA negotiations. And I don’t think that the CBA as it stands permits this kind of abusive process.”
Ginsberg also reiterated his position (predictable as it may be) that Vilma is innocent of the charges. “What the Commissioner has said publicly, the accusations and allegations against Jonathan are not true,” Ginsberg said. “They are simply not accurate. . . . The evidence is not what the commissioner says it is,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think all of you will come to the conclusion that what the Commissioner has been accusing Jonathan and the others of doing is not correct. It’s not accurate. It was said publicly in an irresponsible manner. I think that’s why we haven’t received the evidence. And I think that’s the Commissioner’s biggest fear that at some point we will find the right forum that will make the Commissioner answer for what he’s said and what he’s done.”
The fact that the league has continued to refuse to produce raw evidence of guilt despite mounting questions as to its validity and/or existence will serve only to increase suspicion that the evidence isn’t what the league thinks it is -- or that the evidence simply isn’t there. Amid growing indications that the coaches primarily were nailed for maintaining an illegal pay-for-performance program and lying about its existence but that there may not have been hard evidence of a bounty program, it’s critical that the league put some of its cards on the table.
With each passing day that the league fails to do that, the suspicion will only intensify.