The NFL has reportedly offered New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma a reprieve of sorts for his alleged role in the Bountygate scandal.
According to ESPN, the league is willing to reduce Vilma’s season-long suspension to only eight games if he drops the defamation of character civil lawsuit that he filed against commissioner Roger Goodell. This offer was made last week, apparently, but neither side has confirmed its existence yet.
In fact, shortly after the reports broke, NFL Network’s Steve Wyche came out and said that his sources deny that any offer was extended.
So, who’s telling the truth? As of this moment, the smart money is probably on ESPN.
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It can’t be a coincidence that a week before Vilma and the NFL are scheduled to appear in court suddenly we’re hearing about attempts to compromise.
The NFL has far more to lose in a court battle than Vilma does, and it’s in their best interest to settle this matter as quickly as possible. Conversely, Vilma has already been convicted in the court of public opinion for Bountygate, so barring him getting himself tangled up in a perjury situation, there is really nothing for him to lose by proclaiming his innocence from the mountaintop.
It’s impossible to know what will come of all this, but here is what we do know for certain: if Vilma somehow manages to cast doubt on just his role in Bountygate, everything in Bountygate will inevitably be thrown into question.
The NFL probably wasn’t expecting this sort of pushback when they handed down those ridiculous penalties.
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Things are about to get very interesting.