NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held an appeals hearing over his own NFL Bounty Program decisions on Monday and after leaving his meeting suspended New Orleans Saints Player Jonathan Vilma calls the hearing unfair.
Leaving his appeals hearing after a discussion with the NFL Commissioner Vilma announced:
“Roger Goodell has taken three months to tear down what I built over eight years. It’s tough to swallow. I have been linked to a bounty, and it simply is not true.”
“I don’t know how I can get a fair process when he is the judge, jury and executioner. You’re assuming it will be fair, but it’s not.”
Vilma’s attorney Peter Ginsberg matched that sentiment, calling the discovery process a “sham” in which Goodell failed to provide any evidence of his clients wrongdoings.
Also scheduled for hearings on Monday are Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita. Those players along with Vilma were active members of the Saints roster when defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was in charge of the team and enacted the “pay-for-paint” bounty program.
Smith, Hargrove and Fujita said they were only attending the meeting because they believed failure to do so would allow the NFL’s front office to “attempt to publicly mischaracterize our refusal to attend.” Those three players then added:
“Shame on the National Football League and Commissioner Goodell for being more concerned about ‘convicting’ us publicly than being honorable and fair to men who have dedicated their professional lives to playing this game with honor.”
The NFL turned over 200 pages of documents, with emails, PowerPoint presentations, even handwritten notes, plus one video recording. What was missing was a payment ledger which allegedly provided accounts of $1,000 for plays called “cart-offs” and $400 for “whacks,” as well as $100 fines for mental errors.