The full transcript of my interview with suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma

Yup, that’s Vilma (Associated Press)

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.

And the result was this exclusive interview about his defamation lawsuit against Commissioner Roger Goodell and his explanation for why he didn’t cooperate with the investigation. But there was more…

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?

Vilma: “No.”

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.

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