NFL and Jonathan Vilma Meet: Thoughts, Affidavits Exchanged
By: Kim O'Hara | Posted: September 18, 2012
The Bountygate hits keep coming. After a marathon, nearly three-hour meeting at NFL Headquarters, we’ve learned that Jonathan Vilma was presented with a signed affidavit from former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. It asserts that the Saints linebacker was an active participant in the bounty scheme, offering $10,000 to any teammate who successfully injured then-Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.
This would appear to be a major blow from the NFL, but Vilma (who, along with accused then-teammates Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita) has continued to maintain his innocence via Twitter, insisting that Williams, who signed the affidavit this past Friday, must have been “bullied to sign”. He also claims to have nine affidavits of his own that directly contradict the one presented by Williams and the NFL.
I should preface by emphasizing my own lack of a legal background, but this story has spiraled into a finger-pointing, he-said-he-said free for all. The NFL hasn’t helped itself by refusing transparency regarding its sources, and hasn’t Commissioner Roger Goodell referred to concrete evidence that proves player participation? If so, why was this affidavit apparently thrown together this past week (one week after the suspensions were overturned by an appeals panel)? And, most importantly, Williams has previously admitted to misleading the initial 2010 investigation. One can assume he was dishonest in the interest of protecting himself, so how can the NFL feel confident in his September 14th statement? Couldn’t he be misleading them once again, with the hopes of being in good standing when the time comes to evaluate his reinstatement as an assistant coach? It would appear there are far more questions than answers, along with an overuse of the word “affidavit”, at this point in this increasingly befuddling case.
UPDATE: NBCSports’ ProFootballTalk points out that, while his cooperation with the NFL may result in reinstatement as a coach, Williams’ credibility with players is likely destroyed after “snitching” on his former player. Mr. Williams, please meet Rock and Hard Place… but you might already be acquainted.
Kim O'Hara is the Assocate Editor of TheFootballGirl.com. She is an avid fan of sports in general, but the NFL in particular. She has also been a contributor to ESPN the Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @arahomik
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