Its timing raises many fair questions, even if the NFL would prefer that the questions not be asked. Amazingly, Williams signed the document three days ago, on September 14, 2012.
So here are the questions and issues that Vilma’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, likely will be preparing to ask and/or raise.
How did this declaration come to be?
Williams, whom the league previously identified as someone who corroborated the offer, presumably hadn’t previously reduced his words to writing. Why didn’t he?
Who wrote the declaration?
The declaration consists of a clean, crisp, logical narrative — the kind of document lawyers routinely write. So who wrote it? Williams’ lawyer, based on a meeting with Williams? Or the NFL’s lawyers, based on whatever Williams told the league (or, possibly, the league’s interpretation thereof)?
Why was it written now?
The September 7 ruling of an internal appeals board vacated the suspensions of Vilma and three other players on technical grounds. The decision gave the league a do-over, and the decision to harvest a declaration from Vilma three days before the meeting with Vilma proves that the NFL opted to embrace its mandated Mulligan.
What promises were made to Williams, expressly or implicitly?
It’s fair to ask whether and to what extent Williams has received anything in return for his cooperation. Did the league hint that he’ll be more likely to be reinstated if he signs the declaration?