Point/Counterpoint

Posted: September 23, 2012 in ALL II, Bunker, Collaborative Posts

Defense of Goddell – ALL 2

Per usual with the legal sphere and rich folks (especially in sports), we get a bunch of confusing statements, juicy headlines, and more questions than answered.  Earlier this week, Jonathan Vilma finally met with Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his involvement with the Saints bounty program, the story that will not go away.  Soon thereafter the meeting, the public learned that Vilma and his attorney were given a signed affidavit (available here) of Gregg Williams’ statements pertaining to the bounty program.  Not being a legal scholar, I know that the penalty for lying in an affidavit is perjury and that is something people should not want to face because it’s a BIG deal.  (Note: I am a PhD student in political science, not a law student.  I will leave the legal side open for my more legally inclined colleague) The kicker in all of this is the new rush to present affidavits on the situation.  Vilma’s attorney Peter Ginsburg suggests 30 players are ready to defend Vilma.  Vilma took to Twitter to suggest Williams was bullied into signing this.  Everyone is confused as to why its dated September 14, 2012.  All of this does not matter to me because until further notice it appears as bad for Vilma as it did before.

The first thing that bothers me is the quickness for people to dismiss the genuine nature of the affidavit.  Most people acknowledge that the statement mirrors the exact information he gave to the NFL back in March.  Most people complained that they did not believe the evidence the NFL had and some recently suggested Williams was backing out of his statements; the affidavit seems to double down on the genuine nature of the statement.  Maybe this is the contrarian opinion but this seems more than reasonable since this is going back in front of a court.  I suppose it’s also contrarian to not hate the commissioner but I digress.

The other part of this that gets me going is the public’s willingness to be on board with the 30 players willing to support Vilma.  This, to me, sounds similar to the Lance Armstrong situation that everyone sided with USADA on a month ago.  Remember Lance being confronted with more and more people in trouble and giving testimony claiming he doped?  Remember Lance saying he didn’t and could bring many more teammates, coaches, etc. to support his side?  Remember no one giving a damn that Lance could do that?  I do. I do. I do.  Vilma is now in a similar situation and everyone seems to be siding with Vilma because Goodell is a bad man.  Having a bunch of players pop up to your defense does not mean you didn’t do anything.  It means you have people that said you didn’t do something other people said you did.  Why does Gregg Williams get no credibility but Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, and others do when making statements after testing positive and “in the clutches of the man?”

What this comes down to is Roger Goodell and the NFL are not just picking on the Saints.  We are in a semantics war between pay for performance and pay for injury.  It’s a lawyer’s wet dream which means it’s time for me to bow out.  What I do know is that a bounty system did take place and that involved some players.  Now, no player is willing to rat on another. I get that.  But some player was involved.  Multiple players were involved.  While I am in no position to challenge someone’s motives, I do wonder if this is about integrity or the moolah lost.  If this was not a full season suspension, would we even be here?  Maybe.  I have no issue with Goodell looking to hold players accountable for their involvement in something egregious like a bounty scandal.  Hope the players implicated are the ones involved but to this day nothing has changed to point the finger of doubt towards anyone but Vilma and the three other’s fingered by the NFL.

 

Defense of Jonathan Vilma: Bunkie

I don’t know whether or not Jonathan Vilma is directly responsible with this pay for performance (some call it a bounty) scandal. He’s racking up legal fees by the day to defend his name and reputation, money I’m sure he’ll want when he retires. I can respect the way Vilma has gone about defending his innocence. When Goddell asked to meet with Vilma, Vilma refused, a move I first criticized. But what has become increasingly obvious is that Roger Goddell has relied heavily on hearsay and third party references to come to his conclusions about bounty-gate.

An independent arbitrator lifted the suspensions. That tells me that there is a serious lack of evidence on the side of the NFL. Don’t get me wrong, the circumstantial evidence mounted against Vilma is convincing, but since when do we convict on such matters. While some may quibble with the idea that we still aren’t even certain that this was a bounty scandal, the distinction between pay for performance and bounty is very important. The NFL needs to go out and prove without a doubt that this Saints system was contributing to unnecessary violence that would not have happened were it not for this system. That’s tough to do. Especially when there’s no smoking gun. So in a desperate attempt to save face and pin the deed to Vilma, Goddell reached into the gutter to trot out the troll that he suspended indefinitely: Greg Williams.

Although I’m not a fan of the “Stop Snitching” era, this Greg Williams affidavit is exactly why that moniker was created. Greg Williams was the face of the bounty-gate, he received the most severe punishment of all. He’s desperate. Goddell’s desperate. They are both making a deal with the devil. For all of those who believed that Goddell had an agenda against the Saints, this helps give that notion A LOT of credence. I’m sure Goddell didn’t obtain this affidavit without giving Williams a little something in return. Vilma’s defense, although it sound childish, is valid: “The nfl has 1 affidavit saying i did it. I have NINE saying i didnt. Do the math. Hush haters”. The whole investigation and the subsequent suspensions were resolved via questionable circumstantial evidence, why can’t the defense be the same.

When it comes to NFL credibility, well, these are the same people who are telling us the replacement referees are doing a great job.

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