New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma spoke with ESPN's Jon Gruden to talk about how Roger Goodell has handled his bounty-related suspension. After hearing what Vilma has to say, I can't say I disagree with him one bit.
His biggest issue stems from the fact that Goodell never gave him the first opportunity to defend himself, saying:
I don't believe he handled it well. I don't agree with the way he publicly chastised us, turned us into these media criminals—thugs; whatever you want to call us—before even hearing our side of the story.
Vilma goes on to say that he believes that if Goodell had gone to him and handled things behind closed doors, things would have gone differently.
He's probably right.
The thing that always bothered me about this case is that Goodell pinned 50-plus years worth of a traditional activity that has now become socially and legally unacceptable on one team—specifically against four players, one head coach and a general manager.
It was a PR move to "protect the shield," and ultimately, Goodell's strategy on this matter has effectively done the exact opposite of what he intended. The general public can smell BS from a mile away, and so can the players who put their lives on the line on a weekly basis for our pleasure and a fat paycheck.
The shield has been sullied, and it's not because Gregg Williams implemented a "bounty system" in New Orleans.
Whether Vilma is innocent or guilty of the crimes against him has become darn-near meaningless at this point. Goodell botched this operation from the start, and Vilma's justified for pointing out the obvious.