Vilma Offered Early Sainthood

Saints’ Jonathan Vilma has been offered a reducuction to his season-long suspension that will allow him to play this season. It has been reported that Vilma suspension would be cut in half, which would allow him to return week 10 against  divisional rival Atlanta at home on November. Vilma’s original suspension was the result of his alleged participation in  Gregg Williams’ alleged “pay to injure” bounty system that got Williams kicked out of football indefinitely and Sean Payton suspended for the entire 2012 season and playoffs.  Joe Vitt was also suspended and Saints’ draft picks were stripped for two years. Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Scott Fujita and Will Smith were all suspended for varying amounts of time. Vilma vehemently denies having anything to do with such a pay scheme and took out a defamation suit against Roger Goddell.

Vilma and his teammates are now apparently getting what they have wanted as Goddell has decided to consider reducing the suspensions. Vilma has been the most vocal as he has tried to go to the high courts to determine the scope of Goddell’s authority to sanction players. Vilma is the defensive captain and middle linebacker of New Orleans, which were the active leadership roles that led to being most harshly penalized.

The Saints have been hit very hard by this scandal and the credibility of their Super Bowl victory has been brought into question as part of this investigation. Brett Favre was concussed in the NFC Title game by a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit by Anthony Hargrove.

With the reduced penalties the question must be asked: Is Goddell trying to avoid public review of the evidence used and his decisionmaking process, which have never been disclosed by the NFL?

Will the Saints Compete?

Will those who are offered reductions accept them or fight on?