The network said its sources predicted there was a good chance U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan would rule in New Orleans Friday on a request by Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma for a temporary restraining order against the NFL that would block his suspension for the entire season.
Vilma sued the NFL on the grounds Commissioner Roger Goodell had relied on incorrect facts in handing out the suspension. The league said Vilma took part in the "bounties" system that paid Saints players who knocked a particular opponent out of the game.
Vilma has staunchly denied any role in the reputed bounties. ESPN said the league has not addressed the bounty scandal in its litigation with Vilma but has instead questioned whether the federal court system has jurisdiction in a collective-bargaining matter.
If Berrigan agrees to the temporary restraining order, Vilma and three other suspended players could conceivably play this season while his lawsuit grinds through the courts. A settlement would have likely shortened Vilma's suspension in return for dropping the lawsuit.