New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was one of the players suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with the recent bounty scandal. Vilma has been a vocal opponent of the decisions handed down by the league and is fighting back.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Vilma spoke publicly on Thursday for the first time since filing a defamation lawsuit against the NFL. Vilma refused to be interviewed when the league was investigating the allegations about the Saints. The reason for this, says Vilma, is that the NFL would not present any evidence.
"We asked for evidence, and he (Goodell) wouldn't give it to us," Vilma told NFL.com. "How can I defend myself when I don't know what I'm defending against? It's just logical, things that people decided to ignore."
Asked specifically if the NFL Players Association told him not to cooperate, Vilma said he asked for evidence, Goodell wouldn't share it, and he responded, "How can I defend myself if I don't know what I'm defending against?"
"There was no bounty program in place," Vilma said. "I never paid anybody, intended to pay anybody, that's the truth. Never sought out to injure people. That's the truth. That's really about it. I can't really go into detail."
A spokesperson for the NFL stated that Vilma was invited to come in with his attorney prior to the decision on suspensions in order to discuss the evidence, but Vilma declined.