Ian Rapoport | Tags:
Last night while chilling in the New Orleans Airport, I ran into Saints LB Jonathan Vilma. I approached him to talk, and with a show of true professionalism, he agreed.
Here is a full transcript of our talk:
Me: First, I wanted to gauge your general reaction to the suspensions for the bounty program…
Villma: “What I’ve said before, there was no bounty program in place. I never paid anybody, intended to pay anybody — that’s the truth. Never sought out to injure people. That’s the truth. That’s really about it. I can’t really go into detail.“
Me: If that’s true, why does it all seem like that’s not the case? It all looks like it’s one way.
Vilma: ”How can it look so one way? Because only one guy is telling the story. Simple as that. That is true. No players have said anything. It’s all one-sided.”
Me: When will you tell your side of the story?
Vilma: ”When the time is right. And it’s not a PR battle we’re trying to fight. We’re trying to fight real issues. Whatever is being said in the media, that doesn’t concern me right now.”
Me: Do you read about it in the media, the coverage?
Vilma: “Nah, I was at first and then I was like, ‘What’s the point?’ That’s really why it’s so one-sided, if anybody cared to pay attention.”
Me: Why didn’t you talk to Goodell and the investigators before it was concluded?
Vilma: ”We asked for evidence, and he wouldn’t give it to us.“
Me: And that was that?
Vilma: ”How can I defend myself when I don’t know what I’m defending against? I mean… it’s just logical things that people decided to ignore.”
Me: Was it the union who asked you not to cooperate?
Vilma: ”We asked for evidence. (Stops) Let me talk for myself. I asked for evidence, he said, ‘no.’ I said, ‘OK. How can I defend myself if I don’t know what I’m defending against?’ “
Me: What has been the reaction from other players?
Vilma: ”It’s been pretty supportive, fortunately. I didn’t know what the reaction was going to be, but like I said, it’s more than just a PR stunt. It’s about fighting some real issues here.“
Me: Have you thought about not playing in 2012?
Me: When was the last time you didn’t play in a season?
Vilma: “Eighth grade.”
Me: Have you not let yourself consider it?
Vilma: ”No. There was really no need. There’s a process we’re going to go through right now. Hopefully it’s in my and our favor and go from there.”
Me: Is there any other issue you feel hasn’t been addressed in the public?
Vilma: ”No, not really. Like I said, you work for NFL Network. So, you’re always going to get the NFL side. That’s it.”
Me: Goodell has said he would show the evidence eventually…
Vilma: (Interupts) “He didn’t say that. He was asked, ‘Will evidence be shown at some point? He said, ‘Yes.’ I don’t know what’s going to happen. What I know is he didn’t say he’s going to show it. He was asked if it will be shown, he said, ‘Yes.’ “
Me: Do you believe evidence will come out?
Vilma: ”To be honest, I don’t even care. I’m more worried about the real issues.“