Sources: No settlement before ruling
There will be no settlement between New Orleans Saints suspended linebacker Jonathan Vilma and the NFL before a judge rules on the temporary restraining order, sources familiar with the case told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Wednesday.
Some believe there's a "good chance" U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan will issue a decision on the TRO on Friday or shortly thereafter, the sources told Schefter.
The judge's decision also would impact the other three suspended players -- Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove -- in the wake of their alleged roles in what the NFL says were illegal bounties used by the Saints against opposing players.
Vilma and seven witnesses testified in New Orleans last month that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell got his facts wrong in the bounty scandal, saying league investigators "misconstrued" evidence gathered in their investigation and incorrectly concluded that the Saints had a bounty program.
Vilma asked Berrigan to impose a TRO against the NFL while his lawsuit against Goodell proceeds. Vilma's suit accuses the commissioner of defamation and also asks Berrigan to overturn permanently Goodell's decision to suspend him for the entire 2012 season.
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NFL attorneys did not attempt to challenge testimony denying the existence of a bounty program. Rather, they argued the real question in Vilma's case was whether the federal courts had jurisdiction to overturn a process that was collectively bargained.
After Vilma's testimony, Berrigan said Goodell's contention that players were being punished for actions that occurred not on the field, but in meeting rooms and locker rooms, "borders on ridiculous," and cited it as one of several examples of "slicing the salami very thin."
The NFL last week offered to reduce Vilma's suspension to eight games as part of ongoing settlement talks involving the league, the NFL Players Association and legal representatives for the four players, according to sources familiar with the discussions.
The league's offer was conditional upon Vilma dropping a civil lawsuit charging Goodell with defamation of character, sources said.
The NFL, in a statement released Monday morning, denied that Vilma was offered a settlement deal.Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, ESPN's Ed Werder and the Associated Press was used in this report.
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