NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal magistrate judge has ordered NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to provide the court with documents related to the league's bounty investigation of the New Orleans Saints.
The order by Magistrate Daniel Knowles on Tuesday came in response to suspended linebacker Jonathan Vilma's efforts to initiate the discovery process in his defamation case against the commissioner. Vilma has said the NFL has allowed him to review only a fraction of documents related to bounty matter.
Knowles issued a compromise order in which only the court, and not Vilma, may see the documents — including reports of interviews with witnesses — before a subsequent order is made on whether to allow discovery to proceed.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said league officials have already discussed the order with Knowles and have agreed to comply.
The order comes a day after Vilma re-filed a related lawsuit in the same New Orleans federal court asking for his season-long suspension to be overturned. That lawsuit also has argued that the NFL has failed to fully disclose its evidence in the bounty investigation.
The NFLPA filed a similar request on behalf of three other current or former Saints players suspended in the probe: Saints defensive end Will Smith (four games), free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (seven games) and Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita (one game).
The players' lawsuits contend that Goodell is incapable of acting as a neutral arbitrator in the bounty matter, in large part because his public statements soon after the NFL's investigation was made public last March indicated that he already had determined the guilt of the players before the disciplinary process began.