||6 ft 1 in
|Date of Birth
|Place of Birth
||Coral Gables, Florida, U.S.
Jonathan Vilma is an American football linebacker for the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL). He was originally drafted by the New York Jets 12th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. He played college football for the University of Miami.
On February 29, 2008, the Jets traded Vilma to the New Orleans Saints for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and a conditional pick in the 2009 NFL Draft (ultimately a third-round pick). Jets then-head coach Eric Mangini elected to start linebackers Eric Barton and David Harris in his place. In his first season with the Saints, Vilma was a bright spot on a weak defensive unit. Vilma played in all 16 games, and recorded 132 tackles with one sack. On February 27, 2009, Vilma signed a five-year, 34 million-dollar contract with the New Orleans Saints. On February 7, 2010, Vilma and the Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts to become Super Bowl XLIV Champions. Vilma made a key defensive audible and deflected a pass on 3rd and 11 in the fourth quarter to lead the Saints to their victory. On October 9, 2012, four weeks and three days after an internal appeals panel vacated suspensions imposed on Vilma, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, Saints defensive end Will Smith, and free-agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove, the league has again suspended the four Saints players, according to a league source. Vilma's suspension remained as the entire 2012 season, although he can keep his paychecks for the first six weeks of the season when he was on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Fujita's suspension was reduced from four games to three games, Smith will be suspended four games, and Hargrove had his suspension reduced from 8 games to 7 games. Hargrove also received credit of 5 games served since he is not currently signed with any team. If he is signed by a team, he will have to serve the remaining two games.
On December 11, 2012, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue overruled Roger Goodell's punishments and vacated the suspensions of all the players involved in the alleged bounty scandal. Jonathan Vilma claimed he would continue to pursue his defamation law suit against commissioner Goodell. After Tagliabue's ruling to eliminate Goodell's suspensions, Vilma's teammate and co-captain Will Smith stated, “People actually think that we actually went out and did this, and we didn’t do this,” Smith said of the bounty program, adding that he had not decided whether to pursue any defamation claims of his own. “The only thing that was going on was a pay-for-performance that pretty much every other team in the league has and have had for years. That was it. I never participate in a bounty or put money down to injure another player or encourage other guys to injure other players.”