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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Saints LB Jonathan Vilma gets in dig at Jets while criticizing anonymous teammate 01.03.13 at 7:51 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

College football: Fiesta Bowl, Oregon vs. Kansas State, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)
College basketball: Northeastern at George Mason, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Michigan at Northwestern, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Colorado at Arizona, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Penn State at Wisconsin, 8:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Stanford at USC, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)


‘™¦ An anonymous Saints player blasted first-year defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo in a New Orleans Times-Picayune story than ran Wednesday, and that did not sit well with Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

“I’m bothered you reported it,” Vilma told the paper. “We’re not the Jets, who run to the media for everything.”

Under Spagnuolo, the Saints defense was ranked last in the NFL in total defense and allowed the most yards ever in one season (7,042). The unnamed player criticized Spagnuolo for his performance and his personality.

“He does have that good-guy persona, but he is a control freak and treats people like crap,” the player said. “[Spagnuolo has] no patience and zero personality. [He] has a way of pissing players and our defensive coaches off with how he says and does things. [I] think it’s even harder after having [former defensive coordinator] Gregg [Williams], who guys enjoyed.”

Meanwhile, Williams, who left his position with the Saints for the same job with the Rams a year ago but was suspended indefinitely for his role in the Saints’ bounty scandal, will not return to St. Louis, according to a report from Fox Sports. Williams’ son, Blake, who was the Rams’ linebackers coach this past season, also reportedly will not be retained.

‘™¦ The Jets get criticized for talking to the media too much, and now they might get fined for not talking enough. With Rex Ryan reportedly vacationing in the Bahamas while owner Woody Johnson searches for a new general manager, the team has yet to hold a season-ending press conference. The Jets scheduled a conference for Tuesday, but the league mandates it must be held within a week after the final game.

Ryan received a public vote of confidence from Johnson in a team statement on Monday, but there’s a great deal of uncertainty regarding the rest of the coaching and front office staff.

“Everyone is in limbo,” a source told ESPN.

‘™¦ Adrian Peterson, who rushed for the second-most yards in a single NFL season (2.097), wants to contribute to the Vikings in another way. The running back acknowledged Wednesday that he’s been pushing for a chance to help on special teams.

“For the past two years, I’ve been trying to get in on field goal block,” Peterson said. “Come in off the edge, you know? It’s just going to take one block for them to really be like, ‘OK, you know what? Let’s take the chance and let you go out there and get it done. Kickoff return, I wouldn’t mind getting back there. I’m in it to win.”

Peterson, who returned 16 kickoffs as a rookie in 2007 (averaging 25.8 yards), isn’t likely to have his request approved by coach Leslie Frazier, especially after Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm while blocking for an extra point earlier this season.

“He always asks,” special teams coach Mike Priefer said. “He’s a football player. Gunner, field goal block, returner. The guy is awesome. I always say yes, and then I ask the head coach and he says no. I know what the answer is going to be. I don’t even have to ask.”

Countered Peterson: “I believe in having your best players on the field, especially in critical times. You never know what can happen.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Jan. 3, 1998, the Patriots lost to the Steelers in the divisional round of the playoffs, 7-6. Which Patriots receiver set a team playoff record (since broken) with nine receptions for 104 yards?

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Read More: Adrian Peterson, Gregg Williams, Jonathan Vilma, Rex Ryan
Saints LB Jonathan Vilma says he will play Sunday 10.15.12 at 12:52 pm ET
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Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who was suspended last week for the remainder of the season by the NFL, said he will come off the physically unable to perform list, practice this week, and play this Sunday against the Buccaneers.

A knee injury placed Vilma on the PUP list in Week 2. He’€™s struggled with the injury since last season and has undergone three procedures to repair it.

“I’m feeling good, feeling good,” Vilma said. “I know that the media hasn’t seen much of me for a while, but I’ve actually been working out, working hard, training hard so I can get to this point to be able to give our team a chance to win in Tampa Bay.”

Vilma was suspended in connection with the Saints bounty scandal. A panel had dismissed Vilma’€™s suspension, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reinstated it. Vilma has appealed his suspension in federal court and has asked the judge to ban Goodell from further decisions regarding his suspension. Vilma has asked for an impartial arbitrator to settle the case. The appeal is scheduled to take place the Tuesday after the Saints take on the Buccaneers.

Read More: Jonathan Vilma, NFL, Roger Goodell,
Judge delays ruling in Jonathan Vilma case, urges sides to settle 08.10.12 at 8:42 pm ET
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In the most recent stage of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma‘s suit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, a federal judge has delayed ruling on the case.

The U.S. District Judge, Ginger Berrigan, also urged both sides to settle. She can hand down a ruling at any time to allow Vilma to play this season. Berrigan said she believes Vilma’s one-year sentence is too extreme.

Goodell suspended Vilma for a year for his alleged involvement in the Saints bounty scandal. Vilma appealed the decision, trying to return to the Saints this season. He also sued Goodell, citing defamation.

The NFL PA also filed a suit, claiming Goodell made judgments the CBA does not allow him to make.

In addition to Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Scott Fujita, Will Smith and Saints coach Sean Payton have all been suspended for at least three games. Payton was suspended for the season.

Read More: Anthony Hargrove, Ginger Berrigan, Jonathan Vilma, Roger Goodell
NFL reportedly tells Jonathan Vilma: Drop lawsuit and we’ll reduce suspension 08.06.12 at 10:31 am ET
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The NFL has offered to reduce Jonathan Vilma‘€™s year-long suspension to eight games if the Saints linebacker drops a civil lawsuit charging commissioner Roger Goodell with defamation of character, sources told ESPN’€™s Ed Werder, Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen.

The talks could also lead to reductions in the suspensions of the other three players — Saints defensive end Will Smith (four games), Packers defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove (eight games), and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita (three games).

On Monday, settlement talks are expected to continue between the league, the NFL Players Association and legal representatives for the four players who were suspended for their alleged participation in the team’s bounty program from 2009-2011. Sources say that Friday’s next scheduled appearance before U.S. District Court Judge Ginger Berrigan could serve as a soft deadline to reach a settlement.

While the offer to reduce his suspension was made last week, Vilma has yet to respond.

Read More: Bounty gate, Jonathan Vilma, New Orleans Saints, Roger Goodell
NFL files grievance over Jonathan Vilma’s lawsuit 07.13.12 at 2:23 pm ET
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The NFL filed a grievance requesting Jonathan Vilma to drop his lawsuit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, The Associated Press reported.

The league’s CBA contains a clause stating NFLPA members are not allowed to sue the league or clubs. The NFL said the player’s union agreed to the clause, meaning Vilma’s lawsuit violates the CBA.

Vilma filed the defamation lawsuit against the commissioner after the Saints linebacker was suspended for the 2012 season due to alleged involvement in the Saints bounty scandal.

The NFL’s request prompted Vilma to tweet: The nfl sent me a letter “demanding” I drop my defamation suit or else…lol or else wat?!?? They no likey me lawsuitey.

Vilma’s defamation lawsuit claimed Goodell made certain information public that was detrimental to Vilma’s reputation.

Read More: Jonathan Vilma, Roger Goodell, Rumor Mill,
Drew Brees says NFL bounty probe lacks concrete evidence 06.27.12 at 10:46 am ET
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Saints quarterback Drew Brees said the NFL has yet to present concrete evidence of a bounty program instituted by the Saints.

“How can everybody think that when there’s been no proof that’s been put forth thus far?” he said. “There’s been an investigation; there’s been a lot of stuff put in the media as to what was going on. But is there any proof to back that up? No, there’s not. Not yet.”

Greg Aiello, the NFL’s spokesman, responded to Bree’s comments by backing the investigation in an email the media.

“The investigation was thorough and includes statements from multiple sources with firsthand knowledge about the details of the program, corroborating documentation and other evidence,” Aiello said. “The enforcement of the bounty rule is important to protect players that are put at risk by this kind of scheme. Certainly, Drew Brees would not want to be the target in a bounty scheme and that is why we must eliminate bounties from football.”

The Saints have already faced discipline for the bounty scandal, as New Orleans coach Sean Payton and linebacker Jonathan Vilma received suspensions for a year. Vilma also filed a defamation lawsuit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Brees said coaches testifying on the bounty scandal were coerced by fear of their careers, rendering their testimonies questionable. He added the NFL should come forward with definitive proof or clear the names of those accused.

“It seems like there was a pre-determined conclusion the NFL had as opposed to just going out and find the facts,” Brees told Good Morning America. “A lot of that stuff is being uncovered now that a lot of the things they’re bringing forward are not valid.”

Read More: Drew Brees, Greg Aiello, Jonathan Vilma, sean payton
Report: NFL commissoner Roger Goodell will listen to bounty appeals June 18 06.07.12 at 10:15 am ET
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The four Saints players suspended in the bounty scandal will have their opportunity to appeal in front of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on June 18 ,’s Steve Wyche reported, crediting a source close to the situation.

This meeting will be the first meeting between Goodell and the suspended players since he made the decision to ban them earlier this year.

Jonathan Vilma was suspended for the entire season, and upon hearing his punishment, he turned around and sued the commissioner for defamation. The commissioner must answer to Vilma’s suit by July 5. The other Saints that were banned were Anthony Hargrove for eight games, Will Smith for four games, and Scott Fujita for three games. All four players have denied their role in the bounty program.

The NFLPA has challenged Goodell’s decision by filing two grievances. One of the grievances upheld Goodell’s decision and will be appealed. The other has yet to be settled. If the players’ appeals are successful their suspensions may be reduced.

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is suspended indefinitely by the league, was the leader of the bounty program that ran from 2009 to 2011. The league also suspended Saints coach Sean Payton for a year, GM Mickey Loomis for eight games and assistant coach Joe Vitt for four games.

Read More: Jonathan Vilma, Roger Goodell, Rumor Mill,
Jonathan Vilma’s lawyer says ledger holds no proof of bounties 06.03.12 at 10:48 am ET
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Jonathan Vilma‘s lawyer said a ledger containing fines and bonuses for Saints players doesn’t prove the Saints instituted a bounty program.

Anonymous sources told The Associated Press on Friday the ledger contained proof of payments ranging from $1,000 to $400 for different hits and fines for mental mistakes.Vilma’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, said the rewarded hits named in the ledger were legal plays and the dirty plays were the ones subject to fines. Ginsberg also said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has not been handling the bounty case well and should not have notified the media of the ledger.

Vilma was suspended for the 2012 season because of his alleged involvement with the bounty program. As a result of his suspension, Vilma compiled a defamation lawsuit against Goodell.

“The truth is that Jonathan Vilma gave no money, incentive or encouragement ever – not at any time in his eight-year career – to injure or knock out of any game any player with a dirty or unsportsmanlike hit,” Ginsberg said in a statement. “The facts are plain and simple. During the three seasons in question, Jonathan Vilma was one of the least penalized players not only on the Saints, but in the NFL.”

Read More: Jonathan Vilma, Peter Ginsberg, Roger Goodell, Rumor Mill
Steelers’ James Harrison: Jonathan Vilma’s lawsuit is ‘win-win’ 05.25.12 at 3:46 pm ET
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Steelers linebacker James Harrison, notorious for his questionable hits as well as criticism of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, said Wednesday that Jonathan Vilma‘s lawsuit can help the players even if the Saints linebacker loses.

“It is really a win-win, whether [Vilma] wins the case or if he loses it,” Harrison told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review following an OTA. “If he loses it, it shows that Goodell does have too much power, and if he wins it, it opens up the floodgates.”

Vilma’s lawsuit is another extension of the NFL’s bounty scandal, in which the Saints set up a system that encouraged and rewarded players for harming opponents. The lawsuit claims Goodell’s statements about Vilma were false and damaging to his reputation.

Harrison criticized the penalties handed down to Saints coach Sean Payton and Vilma, saying they were much harsher than the punishment given to the team as a whole.

“He only gave the team a half-million dollar fine and two second-round draft picks, and that’s a billion-dollar organization,” Harrison said. “But yet you take a whole year’s pay away from the guy that is below him and you take a whole year’s pay away from the head coach. But the actual team themselves, you slap them on the wrist.”

Harrison has been fined by the NFL on multiple occasions for dangerous hits. He was suspended in December for an illegal hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.

Read More: Colt McCoy, James Harrison, Jonathan Vilma, Roger Goodell
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Jose Canseco hitless in debut for Worcester Tornadoes 05.18.12 at 8:00 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NBA playoffs: Celtics at 76ers, 8 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI)
NBA playoffs: Thunder at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Red Sox at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. (Fox; WRKO)
MLB: White Sox at Cubs, 2:10 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Reds at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB)

MLB: Red Sox at Phillies, 7:15 p.m. (Fox; WEEI)
MLB: Reds at Yankees, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Spurs at Clippers, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
NBA playoffs: Thunder at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Rangers at Devils, 1 p.m. (NBC)
MLS: Dynamo at Revolution, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)

MLB: Red Sox at Phillies, 1:35 p.m. (NESN, TBS; WEEI)
MLB: White Sox at Cubs, 2 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Cardinals at Dodgers, 8 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI)
NBA playoffs: Heat at Pacers, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
NBA playoffs: Spurs at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Coyotes at Kings, 3 p.m. (NBC)


‘™¦ Controversial former major leaguer Jose Canseco made his debut with the Worcester Tornadoes of the independent Can-Am League, going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and two walks in Thursday night’s 9-2 loss to the Newark Bears in New Jersey.

“I’m in spring training mode out there,” said Canseco, who participated in four of the team’s seven preseason practices. “I’m trying to find my rhythm.”

Canseco received a mix of cheers and boos when he was introduced as the cleanup hitter prior to the game. During batting practice, he hit one home run.

The 47-year-old is being paid $1,000 per month plus housing and use of a rental car, according to a team spokesman.

“It’s not about the money, believe me,” Canseco said.

‘™¦ Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, suspended for the 2012 season for his role in the team’s bounty scandal, filed a defamation lawsuit against commissioner Roger Goodell.

“Commissioner Goodell opted to make very public and unfortunately erroneous allegations against Jonathan,” said Vilma’s attorney, Peter Ginsberg. “By making these false and public statements, he has significantly harmed Jonathan’s reputation and ability to make a living.


Sports Illustrated legal expert Michael McCann writes that Vilma’s “historic challenge” appears to have merit and could threaten Goodell’s ability to hand out punishment as he has done in the past couple of years.

‘™¦ Lakers guard Steve Blake missed a big 3-pointer in the closing seconds of his team’s Game 2 loss to the Thunder on Wednesday. That led to threats against the veteran on his Twitter account and that of his wife.

Kristen Blake retweeted one message that read: I hope your family gets murdered. She blocked more than 500 people from viewing her timeline and quoted a Bible verse with the message: “Pray for those who abuse you.”

Steve Blake, speaking after Thursday’s practice, said he wasn’t planning to check his Twitter account (“That’s why I don’t look at that crap,” he said) but his wife made him aware of it.

“It’s pretty disappointing that there are a lot of hateful people out there, but you move on,” Blake said. “I just don’t appreciate it when it’s toward my family. You can come at me all you want, but when you say things about my wife and my kids, that makes me upset.”

‘™¦ An off-duty New York City police officer was arrested Wednesday night after moving from his seat to a better location at Citi Field and then refusing to leave during the Mets’ 6-3 loss to the Reds. Eduardo Cornejo, 30, was arraigned on criminal trespass charges.

“He was in a section he wasn’€™t supposed to be,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. “They asked him to leave. He wouldn’€™t. [A] supervisor asked him to leave. He wouldn’€™t. The uniformed police sergeant asked him to leave. He wouldn’€™t, and he was arrested as a result.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On May 18, 1973, Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr again won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, setting a record by becoming the first player to win an individual NHL award six consecutive seasons. How many years in a row did Orr go on to win the Norris?

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Read More: Jonathan Vilma, Jose Canseco, Roger Goodell, Steve Blake