Vilma, NFL head to federal court again

Vilma, NFL head to federal court again

Credit: AP

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma arrives at the National Football League's headquarters, Monday, June 18, 2012 in New York. Vilma and three other players are appealing their suspensions for their role in the Saints bounty program. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 25, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- The brains of the New Orleans Saints defense is heading into federal court to try and sack his season-long suspension.

Linebacker Jonathan Vilma is expected to appear before Judge Ginger Berrigan Thursday morning.

Vilma's attorney will ask the judge to grant a temporary restraining order allowing him to participate in Saints training camp which began this week and to begin rehabbing with trainers at the team's Metairie facility.

According to documents filed Wednesday, Judge Berrigan stated that Vilma intends to call six to eight witnesses and introduce approximately 10 exhibits during the hearing.

Attorneys for the NFL are not expected to call any witnesses.

Vilma and Saints coach Sean Payton were suspended for the 2012 season for their alleged roles in a bounty program the NFL says targeted opposition players for three seasons.

His lawsuit claims NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell failed to make a timely appeal ruling regarding his suspension.

The NFL contends that Vilma could not seek a court order to block the suspension because he had not exhausted all of his options under the league's collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association.

In support of the TRO, Vilma's lead attorney Peter Ginsburg argues that Vilma will "suffer real, immediate and irreparable injury" if he's not allowed to play this season while his lawsuit makes its way through the legal system.

The motion goes on to say that "there is no opportunity to 'make up' this lost time. Vilma will simply never have the ability to participate in these lost games and practices again."

The NFL opposed the motion, arguing that Vilma's suit isn't likely to succeed in court.

The league also maintains Vilma's argument that he needs treatment on his injured knee is invalid, since he is allowed to see Saints trainers and doctors during his suspension outside the team's training facility.

Saints star quarterback Drew Brees is not expected to attend Thursday's hearing, but he filed an affidavit with the court which states, "Having been in the NFL for 11 years, I have come to the understanding that great teammates make great teams. I believe that my teammates with the New Orleans Saints, through the leadership by individuals including Jonathan, have a good understanding of our responsibilities to our organization, team, the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana."

NFL attorneys will appear in court for the first time to publicly argue for the legality of its "bounty-gate" punishment.

Berrigan could rule from the bench after hearing arguments from both sides or take the matter under consideration and rule later in the day or on a later date.

 

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