The New Orleans Saints have been the target of an investigation by the National Football League. This article talks about Jonathan Vilma’s decision to sue Roger Goodell.
Just when you thought the season could not get any crazier for the NFL, Roger Goodell and The New Orleans Saints it does. Jonathan Vilma, New Orleans Saints linebacker, has decided to sue Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner. This lawsuit is historic on many fronts.
Jonathan Vilma has what would seem to be a basis for his lawsuit. The punishment that Goodell has handed down to Vilma is based on facts received by third parties. Vilma did not provide any information since he was not interviewed in the investigation. Goodell says there are 50,000 pages of information but this information has not been made public. Goodell alleges that Vilma made an offer to give anyone who knocked Brett Favre out out of the 2010 playoff game $10,000 in cash.
How much Vilma will receive in damages in terms of how his career has been impacted will be difficult to determine. It does not have an impact on Vilma’s ability to perform on the field, if allowed to play whether for the New Orleans Saints or another NFL team. However, the statements made by Commissioner Goodell are very specific which will play in Vilma’s favor.
The most likely responses by the NFL are as follows:
1. It is frivolous suit and should be dismissed.
2. It can not move forward because it falls under the collective bargaining agreement. This means the suit should be dismissed.
3. Vilma is a public figure so actual malice must be proven if the suit goes forward.
4. The truth is not defamation and the statements regarding Vilma are true. The danger with this defense is that it will lead to discovery which the NFL wishes to avoid.
5. The NFL could also claim that it did not release any information to the media thus no real damage.
Vilma’s attorney’s could argue the following:
1. There is no language that allows the NFL or the commissioner to defame any player.
2. Goodell’s statements are so egregious that there would be no need to examine them any further and the court should rule in Vilma’s favor.
3. Vilma could say that the NFL impacted his ability to gain employment by releasing false information to potential employers, the other NFL teams.
This lawsuit is a challenge to a commissioner who has acted with more power than any other in U.S sports history. Goodell has wielded power to control the entire process when there has been any issue or complaint. The results will have a large impact on the sports industry whichever way it goes.