NEW ORLEANS – The tossing out of the disciplinary action against current and former Saints players will not stop a defamation lawsuit by linebacker Jonathan Vilma against current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, according to his attorney.
The ruling by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue vacated the punishments against former Saints players Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove along with current Saints Vilma and Will Smith.
However, Tagliabue did find that Hargrove, Vilma and Smith acted with conduct detrimental to the game and that is a bitter pill that Vilma won’t accept, according to his attorney.
“Jonathan is obviously glad that the threat of discipline is behind him,” said attorney Peter Ginsberg. “On the other hand, what Commissioner Goodell did to him and his reputation has no basis and is inexcusable and Jonathan is going to do everything he can to hold the commissioner responsible and to clear his name.”
Tulane law professor Gabe Feldman said that the ruling by Tagliabue isn’t necessarily a positive for a defamation suit.
“I don’t think this decision makes it easier for him,” said Ginsberg. “In fact, I think it might make it harder. Now there is a second person saying, ‘I’ve looked at the evidence and I think he put a bounty on Brett Favre.”
The long road to Tuesday’s finding by Tagliabue started when Commissioner Goodell initially suspended Vilma for the season and had lesser suspensions for the other three. The players pursued appeals, both through legal channels and through the league, which eventually assigned Tagliabue as an independent voice to look into the allegations.