After a tumultuous offseason that actually saw him at one time suspended for an entire season, New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has gotten word from the NFL that he can indeed suit up and play his first game of the season on Sunday when the Saints take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I’ll be allowed to practice, I’ll be allowed to play versus Tampa Bay [on Sunday],” Vilma said, according to WVUE-TV in New Orleans.
Vilma has been on the PUP list since week one and was just recently reinstated after being handed a lengthy year long suspension for his part in Bount-gate this offseason. Vilma has protested his innocence since the case became national news and heavy suspensions were laid down against those deemed guilty by the league.
Recently Vilma asked a U.S. Court to block Roger Goodell from being able to hand out punishments and handle the bounty-gate case. He wrote a motion to U.S. Judge Ginger Berrigan earlier this season with what he felt were legitimate reasons to bar Goodell from the case.
“Goodell’s manifest bias and partiality is palpable, reflected in his many judgmental, accusatory and unsupported public accusations against Vilma and manifested in a procedure he has invoked which rips at the heart of any notion of fundamental fairness and due process in order to punish Vilma for acts he did not commit,” the motion reads.
But legal matters aside, as Vilma is still suing the NFL, the Saints Pro Bowler will take a symbolic victory step for the NFLPA. Vilma successfully went form being suspended for an entire year to being suspended for half a season to being allowed to play in a game this upcoming Sunday. There is still the issue of how much of an impact he’ll be against the Buccaneers with his knee injury, but that’s hardly going to be the talk when he takes the field.