October 21, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (51) during the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. New Orleans Saints defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-28. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
That may have been the easiest headline I ever wrote, and perhaps the most honest one. There’s not even a valid reason for a poll to validate my claim, for any dissenting vote would almost certainly be made by another team’s fan. I think it’s fair to say that the disappointment by the Saints fans will result in most of them remembering the date of January 17th for a long time.
Should the late-breaking news of Judge Helen Berrigan denying Jonathan Vilma’s request for an open trial be unexpected? That would depend upon the context in which you perceived the question. Most of the fans knew in their hearts it was always a long shot, but as the sports media hammered them with every conceivable reason why Vilma would be shot down in flames that made most of them even the more stubborn.
The premise of the triumph of good over perceived evil is a hard myth to displace, even by rational adults. Is “good over evil”, or “right vs wrong” the wrong phrase? Not by a Saints fan’s definition. If Roger Goodell had been forced by the federal court to produce all the “damning evidence” he claimed to have, that would have been not only good, but the right thing to do.
Reputations of several good men have been irrevocably damaged, and they were robbed of millions of dollars of income. All this was done without the due process on the front end that all Americans have been trained to expect as being their “God given right” in this country. Now that federal court has decreed that the NFL is a country unto itself we’ve all been thrown to the wolves. A precedent has been set that will forever allow the NFL to violate due process at will as it’s done every day in third world countries.
My biggest complaint about Judge Berrigan’s ruling? She made it too quickly and the New Orleans Saints will suffer as a result. If she had waited until a week after the Super Bowl to shoot Vilma down, Roger Goodell might have felt pressure. Perhaps it would have been enough pressure for Roger to abide by Sean Payton’s original suspension terms and allow Sean to return to the Saints after the Super Bowl. Berrigan has given Goodell carte blanche to throw his weight around like a schoolyard bully now and Roger can delay the process as long as he wants to. What is “carte blanche”? The dictionary defines it as “Unrestricted power to act at one’s own discretion“.
Expect Goodell to do just that.