Round One goes to the challenger.
Yesterday, Jonathan Vilma filed a motion to move up the hearing on his request for a restraining order against his suspension by Roger Goodell. Of course, the NFL filed a response in which it claimed Vilma’s request was unreasonable, worthless, juvenile, insane, un-American, and overall just a bad idea.
51 now gets his hearing on July 26. Vilma actually wanted the hearing moved up to tomorrow, so he didn’t get everything he asked for, but he got enough. What the ruling shows is that the judge finds merit in Vilma’s arguments, and maybe not enough in those of the NFL. Still, it’s only the first round, and it’s only a technical sort of victory. Kinda like deciding on the shape of the negotiating table. But winning is better than losing.
What’s perhaps more interesting than the outcome of Vilma’s legal quest is the way Joe Vitt is beginning to heat up. Vitt swore an affidavit in support of Vilma, and here’s what he had to say regarding the bounty accusations:
“While I anxiously await being able to provide substantive and truthful testimony and information about the allegations made by Mr. Goodell regarding the so-called but non-existent bounty program, and to refute that the Saints ever had a bounty on an opposing player and set out to injure anyone, or to encourage any other Saints player to injure anyone, I will restrict my affidavit here to issues that I have been informed are relevant to Mr. Vilma’s motion to restrain temporarily the suspension.”
“So-called but non-existent.” Vitt can’t get any more specific than that, can he? So where is Roger the Hammer? If Anthony Hargrove needs to be suspended for half the season for lying to the NFL about the existence of the bounty program, why isn’t Vitt staring down the barrel of a lifetime ban for daring to accuse Goodell of lying like a rug? Because that’s the only interpretation you can put on this. The arguments have been too detailed, the denials too vehement, to believe anymore that Goodell could simply be mistaken. Vitt might as well come right out and say “Roger is a lying sack of shit,” because that’s the way it’s going to sound to the public anyway, no matter how politely he phrases it.
Meanwhile, Elvis Dumervil pulls a gun on a driver, and Dez Bryant tries to kill his mom. According to mom, anyway. (And apparently it’s true, because Dez “loves his mom to death.” Oops.) The point is, what’s Sheriff Roger going to do about this? Incidents like these make it look like the NFL is filling up with thugs and psychos. Doesn’t that reflect badly on The Shield? Oh, but they’re talented thugs and psychos, and the money is flowing in at record rates, so…
Wake me when something happens.
One last item: Pat Y explains that the NFC South isn’t really as small a market as you might think. He breaks down where each of the teams falls in the overall scheme of things, and ends up by pointing out a truth that not a lot of people have twigged to yet: New Orleans is the new Green Bay. With better food. And, you know, character.
The only television market with an NFL team that’s smaller than New Orleans is Green Bay, which is No. 69. We all know Green Bay and the Packers are a special situation, with die-hard fans that care about little else than their team. In a lot of ways, I think New Orleans has become a lot like Green Bay.
When it comes to football, I say that puts us in elite company. The two best places on Earth to be a fan, and we’re one of them. And, since we have the restaurants, the bars, the nightlife, the Dome, and a lot less snow, that makes New Orleans the best place overall. And now we have mathematical proof. Thanks, Pat.
On the Jukebox
Yesterday, driving down Merrimon Avenue, I saw a sign outside a barbecue place that said “Eat A Peach.” So, okay.