Saints LB Jonathan Vilma reportedly filed a lawsuit today in the Eastern District Court of Louisiana vs. Roger Goodell. You can view a copy of the entire complaint HERE. Here's a taste:
By this action, Vilma seeks to recover damages for defamatory statements made by Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the National Football League ("NFL"). Vilma is a professional football player for the New Orleans Saints ("Saints"), a Member Club of the NFL. Goodell, speaking publicly about certain Saints executives, coaches and players, in relation to purported efforts designed to injure opposing players, made public statements concerning Vilma which were false, defamatory and injurious to Vilma’s professional and personal reputation.
This s*** just got real (as if it wasn't real enough already). What do you think, folks? Will this be of any benefit to him or will it just be a waste of energy? Whatever the result, I'm happy to see him do it. People can say what they will against Mr. Vilma, but it seems to me that only a man steadfastly sure of his innocence would do something like this. Will this force Goodell to fully release whatever "evidence" he supposedly has against our no. 51? We can assume that was a major reason in filing this lawsuit. Can't wait to find out.
Here are the eleven claims Vilma makes in his complaint:
1. Slander Per Se - Injury to Professional Reputation
2. Slander Per Se - injury to Professional Reputation
3. Slander Per Se - Accusations of Criminal Conduct
4. Slander by Implication
5. Slander - Reckless Disregard/Malice
6. Libel Per Se - Injury to Professional Reputation
7. Libel Per Se - Injury to Professional Reputation
8. Libel Per Se - Accusations of Criminal Conduct
9. Libel by Implication
10. Libel - Reckless Disregard/Malice
11. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Here's more from the lawsuit, including what it says is "The Truth" against Goodell's allegations against the plaintiff:
34. Vilma, as a Captain of the Saints defense, was instrumental in leading the Saints to their first-ever Super Bowl championship in the 2009 season and is highly regarded as a player and individual throughout the United States and in the State of Louisiana as well as in the professional football community.
35. Vilma never established, or assisted in establishing, a Bounty Program or any similar program in violation of NFL rules.
36. Vilma never "pledged," made or received payments of any kind encouraging or resulting from an opposing player being carried off the field, i.e., "cart-offs."
37. Vilma never "pledged," made or received payments of any kind encouraging or resulting from an opposing player being unable to return to the game, i.e., "knockouts."
38. Vilma never "pledged," made or received payments of any kind encouraging or resulting from an opposing player being injured.
39. Vilma never "targeted" an opposing player in any manner that would violate NFL rules.
40. Vilma never engaged "in unsafe and prohibited conduct intended to injure players."
41. Vilma never "participate[d] in a program that potentially injured opposing players."
42. Vilma never "embraced" a Bounty Program or any similar program in violation of NFL rules.
43. Vilma never paid, or intended to pay, $10,000, or any amount of money, as an incentive to any player to knock Warner, Favre, or any other player, out of the 2009 Divisional Playoff Game, 2010 NFC Championship Game, or any other game.
44. Vilma never placed $10,000, or any amount of money, on any table or anywhere else as part of a Bounty Program or any other program in violation of NFL rules
UPDATE: The league responds (kinda)
Greg Aiello issues a statement:
"We have not yet reviewed the filing," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT via email. "However, our commitment to player safety and the integrity of the game is our main consideration. We recognize that not everyone will agree with decisions that need to be made."
Goodell will have 30 days to formally respond to the complaint, once it is officially served. It will be far more detailed than the paragraph appearing above, and it likely will consist of an effort to dismiss the case, possibly under the argument that the labor agreement supersedes the litigation process, forcing Vilma to file a grievance under the CBA.