Someone who knows what it’s like to get heavily punished by the NFL and turn things around is Jonathan Vilma, who is advising Tom Brady to battle his suspension by taking the NFL to court.
Vilma was suspended for an entire season for his role in the Bountygate scandal, as it was revealed that New Orleans Saints players had pay-for-injury program among defensive players, run by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Vilma hired his own lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, and took the league to federal court after appeals within the league confines didn’t get him anywhere.
That made Goodell hire former commissioner Paul Tagliabue as a neutral arbitrator. Tagliabue cancelled out the punishments handed by Goodell. Not just to Vlima, but also to Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove. Vilma believes that going through the usual process of appealing with the NFLPA leading he charge from a legal standpoint won’t get Brady anywhere.
Still, things might not be as they were in Vilma’s case. Vilma was punished by Goodell, and Goodell was the one leading the investigation into the Saints injury-bonus affair. Ted Wells was hired by the NFL to investigate the deflated balls scandal, and Troy Vincent was the one who handed out the punishments to Brady and the Patriots, making things a bit more complicated.
I’d tell Brady to fight the emotion of defending himself publicly, lawyer up and begin to devise a gameplan to beat the NFL through the court system. We based our argument off of Goodell being the face of the BountyGate witch hunt. He hasn’t done that this time around. I don’t know how he accuses Goodell of being too bias to be the arbitrator. I was able to prove he was biased and then let all the facts start coming out in a neutral setting.
Vilma also said it’s very difficult concentrating on playing (Vilma kept on playing while his appeal was pending) and dealing with the legal and disciplinary stuff. He thinks it might prove to be difficult even more for Brady because of his position, quarterback. Don Yee, Brady’s agent, is also the agent of Sean Payton, the Saints’ head coach, who was suspended for an entire season due to Bountygate.