New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma's defamation lawsuit against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with the bounty case was dismissed by a federal judge on Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan in New Orleans ruled in favor of Goodell's motion to dismiss Vilma's complaint, which was filed in May and set out 11 claims. Vilma had argued that Goodell made false statements, tarnishing the player's reputation, in connection with the league's investigation of what it determined was a system that offered cash bonuses to Saints players for big hits from 2009-11.
"Even though this matter has been pending only since May ... it feels as protracted and painful as the Saints season itself, and calls for closure," Berrigan wrote in her decision. "The Court nonetheless believes that had this matter been handled in a less heavy handed way, with greater fairness toward the players and the pressures they face, this litigation and the related cases would not have been necessary."
Goodell initially suspended Vilma for all of the 2012 season — although he wound up being able to play while appealing — and three other players received shorter bans: Saints defensive end Will Smith and two former Saints, Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove. But Paul Tagliabue, Goodell's predecessor as commissioner, heard a final round of player appeals and threw out the suspensions last month.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said neither he nor Goodell would have any comment Thursday about Berrigan's ruling.