NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma filed a defamation lawsuit Thursday against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The suit in U.S. District Court in New Orleans claims Goodell has made false statements about Vilma while discussing the NFL’s bounty investigation of the New Orleans Saints.
Goodell has said Vilma was a leader of the team’s bounty program that put up thousands of dollars for big hits on opposing teams’ star players from 2009-11, including on then-Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner and then-Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre during the playoffs in 2010.
“Commissioner Goodell opted to make very public and unfortunately erroneous allegations against Jonathan,” said Vilma’s attorney, Peter Ginsberg. “By making these false and public statements, he has significantly harmed Jonathan’s reputation and ability to make a living.
“By suing Commissioner Goodell in court, Jonathan opted to use a fair playing field where he has procedural rights and protections to remedy the harm Commissioner Goodell has done to him,” Ginsberg added.
Vilma wrote on his Twitter account that, “As I’ve said before..I NEVER PAID, NOR INTENDED TO PAY ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY, TO ANY PLAYER FOR INTENTIONALLY HURTING AN OPPONENT.”