Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma heads to federal court in New Orleans today, trying to convince a judge that the NFL should not have suspended him for the season.
The case centers on claims the commissioner didn't prove allegations of a Saints bounty program.
The league wants Vilma's lawsuit dismissed and says Commissioner Roger Goodell is protected by the power the players gave him under the collective bargaining agreement, while Vilma is asking the judge here at federal court to let him play because he feels Goodell has abused his power.
Tulane Sports Law Professor Gabe Feldman says talks of a possible settlement don't seem to be on the table now.
"It seems pretty clear that Jonathan Vilma believes that he is innocent, and no settlement will satisfy him," he explained. "The league believes they're innocent and done everything in their power."
He says with both sides digging in, the case appears to be destined to work through he court system.
"There may not be room for a settlement at this point," Feldman said.
He added that it's hard to guess what the judge may do in this case.
Vilma insists Goodell has not proven allegations of a Saints bounty program, and has exceeded his power:
Feldman says the heart of Vilma's case to get the punishment thrown out claims "although the commissioner is vested with broad powers under the CBA (collective bargaining agreement), he has exceeded the scope of his authority here; and he has abused his powers, and that the suspensions are arbitrary and capricious."
The league argues that the players gave Goodell the power to enforce the penalties in the CBA they approved.
"The NFL is going to make the case... that all of these lawsuits should be dismissed because they are covered by the collective bargaining agreement, and a court simply does not have the power to interfere with the commissioner's decision," Feldman said.
Goodell has suspended Vilma for the entire 2012 season, saying the Saints linebacker was among the ring leaders of a program that offered Saints defenders improper cash bonuses for injuring opponents.
Vilma, several teammates and Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt have testified that Vilma never paid or accepted money for injuring another player.
Initially the judge is deciding if Vilma can play while the case plays out, or if she should throw out the suit completely.