The latest news in the Jonathan Vilma vs. Roger Goodell saga is that Vilma has once again appealed Goodell’s ruling with the interesting twist that “Vilma has requested that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recuse himself on the basis of bias and partiality“. That’s what “Bounty Gate” has really become, in essence, a personal war between the two men. Vilma has made it that way by filing a defammation suit and it’s clear to me and should be clear to anyone that’s spent even ten minutes researching any of this stuff that Vilma will take this all the way. Can you blame him? This suspension will in effect kill his career. He was set to make $5 million this year, and while some of that money has been recouped thanks to the newest ruling, he’ll still be out a few million. Am I suggesting you should feel sorry for him? Of course not, he’s got plenty of money. But if I’m Vilma my attitude certainly isn’t “what’s a few million, I’m already rich”. More importantly, this suspension will put him out of football for an entire year and make him a pricey player for the Saints to retain on the final year of a backloaded contract next season. As pressed up against the cap as the Saints are, with Curtis Lofton already groomed as the heir apparent, the chances of Vilma playing for the Saints next year are slim to none. I’m not ruling out the Saints wouldn’t find a way to take care of him and that he wouldn’t give the team a discount, but let’s consider what both are up against next season. So then you’re talking about a possible waived free agent veteran, with a questionable at best knee injury in the twilight of his career and a tainted resume looking for a new team. Who is going to sign that? Someone might take a flyer for the league minimum, but to assume anyone would take a chance on him for anything more than ~$1 million a year is misguided. Even then, he’ll have to show from minute 1 that he is totally and completely recovered from his knee injury after being out of football a year. If he can’t, he’s probably getting cut again and no other team will waste their time on him. That’s how that could very easily play out and Vilma’s career would be pretty much over. We’re not talking about 5 years from now, either, we’re talking maybe 8-9 months away. So those of you suggesting Vilma should just take his medicine, accept his punishment and move on… sorry, but clearly you’re not the sharpest tool in the shed.
The fight and commitment Vilma has had during this entire ordeal has been unwavering. In the incessant news updates and peaks and valleys of each ruling completely annoying? Absolutely. But you at least have to respect that Vilma is fighting for what he believes in up until the very end. He’s not giving up. Those of you suggesting he take his medicine are essentially saying he should piss away his career. Vilma has been steadfast in proclaiming his innocence and if he indeed truly believes he is not guilty of putting a 5 figure price tag on Brett Favre’s head how can you blame him for fighting this? To be honest, even if he is guilty of the accusations made against him, what this suspension means to his career would lead me to force the burden of proof on my accusers anyway. So either way, guilty or innocent, Vilma cannot accept this ruling. What can possibly come out at this point that would make Vilma look any worse? He’s already been made to look like a monster and blasted by any non Saints fan across the country (media or otherwise). Does it really matter at this point if that perception is proven? If there is even a sliver of hope that he stands to gain something then this battle is a no brainer because the alternative is career death.
If you are sick and tired of hearing about Jonathan Vilma as he pertains to this case, I don’t blame you. The ridiculousness of this is bordering on Lance Armstrong EPO/Barry Bonds steroids/Brett Favre retirement talk/Barbaro health updates. It’s gotten that bad. But don’t mistake overexposure in the media for coming out and saying “Vilma should quit”. Sorry, no. He’s taken it this far and there is no turning back. If you’re sick of hearing about it, don’t go to ESPN, or just ignore the stories as you come across them online. It’s not that hard to do. Trust me this is far from over and there will still be numerous twist and turns along the way. It will get more annoying, something like this never resolves itself quickly or quietly. But please do me a favor and don’t insult anyone’s intelligence and suggest Vilma should just accept his suspension. Giving you a personal mental respite from Bounty Gate does not factor into any decision he might make, and it shouldn’t. I’ve seen plenty of quitters during my time on this earth but Jonathan Vilma is not one of them, and if you suggest he should be, then you clearly aren’t doing your homework. And you know what they say: “if you think education is expensive, try ignorance”.