Jonathan Vilma knows a thing or two about battling the NFL in court.
The former Saints linebacker, suspended during the Bounty Gate fiasco a few years back, was Asked by Ed Werder of ESPN what he’d tell Brady to do to fight his suspension.
“I talked to Jonathan Vilma, who ferociously fought what had until this point been the harshest sanctions ever imposed by the NFL on a team, the Saints, for the bounty accusations,” Werder said on SportsCenter. “And Jonathan Vilma told me, when I asked him what advice he’d give to Tom Brady, he said, ‘I would tell him to fight the emotion of trying to publicly defend yourself, I would lawyer up and I would devise a game plan to beat the NFL in court.’”
Vilma was initially suspended for the entire 2012 season for the Saints bounty case. But after a protracted legal battle, Vilma and his Saints teammates were able to pressure Goodell to hand control over Bountygate discipline to his predecessor, Paul Tagliabue. Tagliabue rescinded all the players’ suspensions.
Vilma believes that a legal battle will be necessary for Brady as well — because an appeal under the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement won’t work, because the CBA gives Goodell the power to either handle the appeal himself or appoint someone of his choosing to hear the appeal.
“[Vilma] does not believe that the NFL Players Association can successfully defend Tom Brady within the confines of the CBA,” Werder said. “He thinks he’s going to have to go to federal court, as the Saints players did, and in Vilma’s case he not only had union representation, he also had his own private lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, who could at some point be involved in Brady’s defense at some point.”