Sports

Former Cane Sues NFL Commish Over Bounty Penalties

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Jonathan Vilma

NEW ORLEANS – JANUARY 16: Jonathan Vilma #51 of the New Orleans Saints smiles on the bench late in the second half against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Louisana Superdome on January 16, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Miami Dolphins

NEW ORLEANS (CBSMiami) – It might be time to grab some popcorn and get ready for a show between the NFL and former University of Miami linebackers Jonathan Vilma.

Thursday, Vilma filed a lawsuit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in Louisiana. The lawsuit claims Goodell made defamatory statements against Vilma.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of Goodell imposing a year-long suspension for Vilma’s alleged involvement in the Saints bounty program. The NFL said the Saints and players, including Vilma, put bounties out for intentionally injuring players, against NFL rules.

Vilma takes issue with being mentioned specifically by the NFL in the release that detailed the bounty program. The NFL alleged that Vilma offered $10,000 in cash to any player who knocked Brett Favre out of the game.

The main contention the Saints and the players involved have had with the NFL’s bounty investigation is no evidence gathered by the NFL has ever been revealed publicly. The lawsuit seeks to change that and to also find out the sources that talked to the NFL.

In the lawsuit, Vilma denied that he ever established or assisted in establishing any bounty program. He also denied ever make offers of cash for injuring other players, or that he specifically targeted opposing players in a way that would violate NFL rules.

Vilma’s lawyers said the middle linebacker was slandered because “Goodell’s Statements forever falsely taint and permanently damage Vilma, in the eyes of NFL Clubs, media, fans, and sponsors, as a player who brazenly disregards NFL rules and intentionally attempts to injure his opponents.”

Vilma is asking for compensatory and punitive damages and wants Goodell to pay for his costs, expenses, and attorney’s fees from the lawsuit.

The NFL hasn’t responded and hasn’t said if they will reveal the contents of the bounty investigation to the general public. If the lawsuit is not dismissed, the contents of the investigation and anything related to Vilma will become public knowledge.

Vilma is on the downside of his career, so missing one season at this stage of his life, could have a serious financial impact on the former Cane.

If the lawsuit is successful, it could open the NFL up to massive litigation and possibly overturn Goodell’s penalties on the players and possibly the organization as a whole.

To read the entire lawsuit, click here.

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