September 11, 2012

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma sent notice through his legal team that he's willing to sit down for a formal meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell.

Vilma and attorney Peter Ginsberg walked out of a joint appeal hearing June 18. That meeting started with all four suspended players -- Saints defensive end Will Smith, free agent Anthony Hargrove and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita -- before it was delayed and then re-started without Vilma hours later.

Ginsberg declined to return for that meeting after adjournment and called the appeal hearing "a sham."

"I'm expecting a fair meeting, unlike the June 18 appeals hearing," Vilma told ESPN via text message. "We can all benefit from transparency regarding evidence and witnesses instead of using conjecture or hearsay to come to inaccurate conclusions. I look forward to getting this accomplished."

Ginsberg said he and Vilma are ready to talk to Goodell and Tuesday was set as the NFL's deadline for players to communicate with the league office before punishment was reconsidered. The commissioner is reviewing the bounty case after a three-person appeals panel, including two former judges, vacated the NFL punishment for players through the union's appeal process.

Vilma was suspended for the entire 2012 season. The NFL alleges he placed a $10,000 bounty on quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Brett Favre in the 2010 postseason.

Ginsberg said vital to the meeting is the NFL allowing for evidence to be shared with the accused and the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses the NFL cites.

"We want to see the evidence and confront the witnesses," Ginsberg told ESPN. "When the Commissioner produces less than 1 percent of the evidence gathered in the investigation, it became abundantly clear we were not being offered a fair opportunity to present to him in a very strong and detailed manner what in fact took place and decided not to participate in what was clearly a charade.

"We hope that now as we regroup that we are provided a fair and appropriate avenue to a just resolution."

-- The Sports Xchange

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