Despite having his suspension vacated, the Saints linebacker will move forward with his personal defamation suit against the NFL commissioner.
Paul Tagliabue's decision to vacate player punishments in the New Orleans Saints bounty case is unlikely to be the last word on the matter. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma intends to pursue his personal defamation suit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, according Albert Breer of the NFL Network.
Peter Ginsberg, Vilma's attorney, confirmed his client's decision to continue with the suit immediately after Tagliabue's decision was announced. Breer relayed Ginsberg's statement via Twitter:
Just spoke w/Vilma's lawyer, Peter Ginsberg. Told me, "Jonathan intends to continue to pursue the defamation lawsuit in order to reclaim ...— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 11, 2012
(Ginsberg cont): "... his reputation. We’re pleased that the unjust penalties have been overturned, but this is only one piece in ..."— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 11, 2012
(Ginsberg cont): "... remedying the situation for Jonathan."— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 11, 2012
Vilma is suing for damages he claims were done to his personal reputation in the league's report on the bounty case as well as comments made by Goodell.
On Monday, ESPN reported that the league made a settlement offer to Vilma and the other players that would have reduced fines and suspensions in exchange for Vilma dropping his defamation suit. The players rejected that offer, according to the report, in part because they were satisfied with Tagliabue's handling of the appeal process.
Tagliabue walked a fine line in his decision. He affirmed the league's findings in the investigation while disagreeing with Goodell's decision to suspend the four players named in the report. It's unknown how that might factor into Vilma's case, but because it does not explicitly exculpate anyone, it leaves the door open for the case to continue.