While it still remains unclear whether the NFL actually offered Saints’ linebacker Jonathan Vilma a reduced suspension settlement offer, there is no disputing that the two sides will take their battle to the courts, beginning on Friday in U.S. District Court. Whether or not the offer was ever given, Vilma will continue with his case against the NFL, hoping for a temporary restraining order which would allow him to return to his team. The Super Bowl champion also has a separate case against Roger Goodell for defamation, which Vilma would have also been required to drop had he accepted the alleged offered.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that judge Ginger Berrigan, who will hear the case, will offer her decision on the temporary restraining order as early as Friday, or soon thereafter. Schefter, along with Ed Werder of ESPN, report that the NFL’s strategy in the case is not to challenge testimony denying the bounty, but rather to attest that the court’s cannot overrule a process which the players agreed to in the collective bargaining agreement.
This will not be the first time that either side has their case heard in court, as both were involved “court-ordered settlement talks”, as reported by Steve Wynche of NFL.com.
Vilma’s case could have a great affect of the cases of Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove, and Scott Fujita, who were also suspended for their roles in the alleged bounty scandal. While the other three players have not yet taken to the courts with the same intensity of Vilma, they could follow suit if the court rules in the linebacker’s favor.
ESPN had reported an eight game suspension being offered to Vilma, eight games less than his original season long suspension, which the NFL has since denied.