(CBS/AP) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he expects evidence in the Saints bounties case would be made public after all the player appeals and grievances have been heard. Release of any documents also could be delayed by Saints linebackeragainst Goodell after the commissioner suspended Vilma for the entire 2012 season.
Vilma has vehemently denied participating in bounties and tweeted this last week:
As I've said before..I NEVER PAID, NOR INTENDED TO PAY ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY,TO ANY PLAYER FOR INTENTIONALLY HURTING AN OPPONENT.— Jonathan Vilma (@JonVilma51) May 17, 2012
Goodell said he has "not spent a lot of time" on the lawsuit in which Vilma contends the commissioner made false statements that tarnished Vilma's reputation and hindered his ability to earn a living playing football.
"I've been around this league for 30 years and you are going to make decisions that will not be unanimous, it just doesn't happen, particularly in a game where there is a lot of emotion, a lot of passion," Goodell said. "What I have to do is what is in best interests of the game long term.
"You watch Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue, you are part of the decision-making process, and you see how they go about it. You watch other leagues, try to take in every perspective.
"You don't worry about a popularity contest. You can't."
CBSSports.com senior columnist Clark Judge says Goodell is smart to make the evidence public.
"The NFL must show us something, anything to demonstrate to Saints' fans and the New Orleans organization itself why Goodell punished the club, its coaches and its players," Clark writes."Owners and general managers don't, and they made that clear Tuesday. I spoke to several, and none wondered why they haven't seen proof of what happened with the Saints by now. "
One GM told Clark: "Frankly, I don't think anyone should want to see more evidence because I believe it's of a broader scope. I've known Roger for too long to know he doesn't do things flippantly. Trust me, these guys have done their due diligence."