New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma, suspended in the Saints' pay-for-hits bounty scandal, departed an appeal hearing with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday calling it unfair.
Vilma was suspended for the entire 2012 NFL season for his alleged role in the bounty system that the league says rewarded players monetarily for injuring opponents.
"It's unfortunate that this process has been the way it is," Vilma said Monday. "I don't know how you get a fair process when you have a judge, jury and executioner (Goodell).
"He's made a ruling and is going to stick by that ruling. Whatever happens from there happens. It's hard to go into a process or situation assuming that it's fair."
Vilma was one of four players suspended, but took the toughest punishment because the league said he helped establish and fund the bounty program.
He was said to have offered $10,000 to any player who knocked Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner out of a 2009 playoff game.
"It's tough to swallow, knowing that from here on out, I'll be forever linked to a bountygate that's simply not true," said Vilma, who filed a defamation lawsuit against Goodell last month.
Peter Ginsberg, Vilma's lawyer, called Monday's hearing a "sham".
The NFL Players' Association issued a statement on their behalf echoing Vilma's claim that the league "has grossly misrepresented to the public," their actions.
However two grievances filed by the NFLPA on behalf of the players were denied by arbitrators earlier this month.
Goodell also banned Saints coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season after finding between 22 and 27 Saints players took thousands of dollars in payoffs for delivering hits that forced opposing players out of games.
Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the instigator of the scheme that ran from 2009 through 2011, has apologized for what he called a "terrible mistake".
Source: AFP American Edition