Vilma and NFL hearing set for Thursday after no deal made


Posted on July 23, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Updated Monday, Jul 23 at 5:14 PM

Mike Hoss / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @mhosswwl

NEW ORLEANS -- When suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma arrived at federal court Monday morning, along with teammate Will Smith, for a settlement conference with league attorneys, Vilma said, “hopefully we'll get something accomplished.”

But roughly four hours later, NFL attorney Gregg Levy walked out saying the two sides had not come to a resolution, and Vilma's year-long suspension remains in place.

“We had some useful conversations,” he said.

Vilma said he couldn't talk about specifics of the conference.

The league suspended the 30-year-old linebacker for his role in the Saints bounty system.

Vilma calls the allegations false, and talked about the impact of a full year suspension

“Irreparable. Can't get back that year or this year coming up,” Vilma said.

With no resolution Monday means that Thursday there will be a temporary restraining order hearing, and it also means that quarterback Drew Brees and coach Joe Vitt could testify on Vilma's behalf, which is also the first day of practice for Saints training camp.

“Obviously I want the team to do well and I want to be a part of the team,” Vilma said. “So for us, if they're willing to help me out in that situation, that would be great. But I understand that we're about winning and it’s about the Saints, so if Drew or Joe can't come out, I'm fine with that too.”

Eyewitness News legal analyst Donald “Chick” Foret said Vilma needs to convince a judge to let him play and rehab while the case plays out in court.

“This is Jonathan Vilma saying judge, I'll be irreparably harmed if I don't get put back to work because training camp is started and the clock is ticking,” Foret said.

And in many aspects, it truly is.