NFL CAREER – A leader on the field and in the locker room, tireless in preparation and fierce while patrolling from the linebacker position, Vilma has proven to be everything the Saints had hoped for since acquiring him in 2008. No Saint has had as many tackles as Vilma’s 528 over the past five seasons, earning a reputation as one of the NFL’s top linebackers. Vilma has been voted by his teammates as a defensive team captain for the past four seasons and by opposing players, coaches and fans as a Pro Bowl selection in 2009 and 2010. Through an aggressive and ardent rehabilitation program, the former University of Miami (Fla.) standout made a successful return to the lineup in week six, as he transitioned to the weeakside position in the remaining 11 games and posted 49 tackles (21 solo), one sack, one interception return for touchdown and three passes defensed. Vilma arrived in New Orleans after a four-year stint with the New York Jets where, after being selected 12th overall in 2004, he earned Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Through nine seasons, he’s enjoyed impressive results, recording 988 tackles (642 solo), 41 passes defensed, 12 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, 10 recoveries and 10.5 sacks while starting 121 of 124 career games.
HONORS – 2010: Pro Bowl; USA Football All-Fundamentals Team; Saints Man of the Year (Club nominee for Walter Payton Man of the Year); 2009: Pro Bowl; 2008: Ed Block Courage Award (Saints recipient); 2005: Pro Bowl; 2004: Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year; Football Digest Defensive Rookie of the Year; Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team; AFC Defensive Rookie of the Month (November).
CAREER TRANSACTIONS – Activated from Physically Unable to Perform list, 10/20/12; Placed on Physically Unable to Perform list, 9/10/12; Re-signed to a five-year contract (UFA), 3/3/09; Acquired by the Saints from the New York Jets for a fourth-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, 2/29/08; Placed on Injured Reserve, 10/27/07; Signed by the New York Jets to a five-year contract, 7/27/04; Selected in the first round by Jets (12th overall) in the 2004 NFL Draft.
2012 – Served as one of three defensive team captains along with Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins. Played in 11 contests with 10 starts after spending the first six weeks on the Physically Unable to Perform list (knee)…Finished with 49 tackles (21 solo), one sack, one interception return for a touchdown and three passes defensed…Posted seven stops (three solo) in first start of the season at Denver, Oct. 28…Registered six tackles (three solo) and a sack of Carson Palmer at Oakland, Nov. 18…Made six tackles (three solo) at Atlanta, Nov. 29…Led the team with 11 tackles (three solo) while also recording two passes defensed and an interception that was returned 18 yards for a touchdown vs. Carolina, Dec. 30. 2011 – Elected by teammates as one of two defensive team captains. Started all 11 games he appeared in at MLB and recorded 67 tackles (38 solo), four passes defensed, one forced fumble and a team-best three fumble recoveries, one for a touchdown. Fumble recovery total tied for second in the NFL. Inactive weeks three, 9-12 and 17 with (knee). Started two postseason contests and registered 13 tackles (nine solo) and one fumble recovery…Started strong in NFL opener at Green Bay, Sept. 8, contributing 10 tackles (seven solo)…Finished with four tackles (two solo) and recovered a fumble by Jay Cutler vs. Chicago, Sept. 18, before being forced to leave the contest with a knee injury that would sideline him the next week…Made four tackles (one solo) and a fumble recovery on a mishandled snap vs. Indianapolis, Oct. 23… Recorded seven tackles (two solo), forced a fumble and recovered a fumble forced by Malcolm Jenkins in the end zone for a touchdown at St. Louis, Oct. 30…After missing next three games (knee), returned to lineup vs. Detroit, Dec. 4, and tied his season-high with 10 tackles (six solo) and a pass defense…Registered seven tackles (four solo) and a fumble recovery in NFC Divisional Playoff game at San Francisco, 1/14/12. 2010 – Elected by teammates as one of five team captains and started all 16 regular season games and the team’s playoff contest at MLB. Led the Saints in tackles (131) for the third straight season, adding a career-high four sacks, an interception, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery…In NFC Wild Card Playoff at Seattle, 1/8/11, led Saints with 10 tackles (six solo) and a pass defense…In NFL opener vs. Minnesota, Sept. 9, posted six tackles (two solo) and intercepted Brett Favre for a second quarter five-yard return…On Monday night win at San Francisco, Sept. 20, finished with a team-high 11 tackles (five solo) and made a crucial, potential score-saving strip of Delanie Walker inside the New Orleans 10-yard line…Had second straight double-digit tackle game with 11 stops (eight solo) vs. Atlanta, Sept. 26…Second quarter sack of Max Hall put Cardinals out of field goal range at Arizona, Oct. 10, also adding eight tackles (nine solo)…Led a defense that held Steelers to 10 points vs. Pittsburgh, Oct. 31. Sacked Ben Roethlisberger and added nine tackles (seven solo)…Led Saints with 13 tackles (six solo) and sacked Carson Palmer for a six-yard loss at Cincinnati, Dec. 5…Sacked Sam Bradford for a 22-yard loss, forcing him to fumble and creating second-and-32 situation vs. St. Louis, Dec. 12…Tied season-best with a team-high 13 tackles (eight solo) at Baltimore, Dec. 19…At Atlanta, Dec. 27, recovered a fumbled snap that would eventually lead to a touchdown, while also being the centerpiece of a run-stopping effort that held the Falcons to only 3.4 yards per carry on the ground. Added seven tackles to the effort. 2009 – Elected one of two defensive team captains and started all 15 regular season games and three postseason contests in which he played. Did not play at Carolina, 1/3/10. Led team with 130 tackles (102 solo) and added two sacks, three interceptions, tied for second in NFL among linebackers and eight passes defensed. Tied career-highs in picks and deflections. Selected to second Pro Bowl of career, the first Saints linebacker to receive the honor since 2000 (Mark Fields), but did not play due to New Orleans’ pending Super Bowl berth. In postseason, recorded 14 tackles (13 solo), one interception, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and two passes defensed…Recorded four tackles (three solo), a sack of Matthew Stafford for a loss of seven yards and a pass defense vs. Detroit, Sept. 13…South Florida native played in hometown for the first time since joining Saints at Miami, Oct. 25 and led the team with 11 solo tackles, including three for a loss…Tipped a fourth quarter Matt Ryan pass at the Saints one-yard line on Monday night vs. Atlanta, Nov. 2. The ball was picked up in the air by Tracy Porter and returned 18 yards, creating a touchdown drive that gave New Orleans an 11-point lead. Also added nine tackles (seven solo)…Recorded 12 tackles (ten solo), with two stops for a loss vs. Carolina, Nov. 8…Recorded 12 tackles (11 solo) for the second straight week…Made his first interception of the 2009 season with a third quarter pick of Josh Freeman at Tampa Bay, Nov. 22…Led the Saints with 10 tackles (eight solo) in Monday night win vs. New England, Nov. 30…Fourth quarter interception of Jason Campbell, prevented a score and guaranteed game went to overtime at Washington, Dec. 6. Also added nine tackles (six solo)…Led team with eight tackles (seven solo) and made two big fourth quarter plays to seal what became the franchise’s record 13th consecutive win at Atlanta, Dec. 13, with an interception of Chris Redman and a tackle of Jason Snelling short of first down marker on critical fourth-and-two situation, their final offensive play…Posted season-high 15 tackles (11 solo) with four-yard sack of Tony Romo and a pass defense vs. Dallas, Dec. 19…Tied the team lead with 10 tackles (seven solo) at Tampa Bay, Dec. 27…In NFC Championship vs. Minnesota, Vilma made three big plays: a third quarter interception of Favre at the New Orleans 28-yard line, forcing a fumble by Adrian Peterson and recovering a fumble by Bernard Berrian deep in Saints territory, in making a significant contribution to the Saints’ first Super Bowl berth. Also chipped in five solo tackles and a pass defense…In Super Bowl XLIV vs. Indianapolis, recorded eight tackles (seven solo), including one for a loss when he stuffed Joseph Addai on a second-and-one play for a three yard loss to help set up a three-and-out. Also broke up a deep pass to Austin Collie on a fourth quarter, third-and-11 play to force what would be a missed field goal attempt. 2008 – Led or shared team-lead in tackles in 10 games, and recorded double-digit tackle stop totals in eight games. With 151 stops (100 solo), had most tackles for a Saint since 1997 Winfred Tubbs-160). Added three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one interception, one sack and eight passes defensed…In his Black and Gold debut, had a team-high 12 tackles vs. Tampa Bay, Sept. 7…Posted a season-high 17 tackles (12 solo) at Washington, Sept. 14, and two passes defensed, playing every defensive snap…Set up the Saints’ first touchdown with a recovered fumble and notched eight stops vs. San Francisco, Sept. 28…In Weeks 5-7, posted 32 tackles and deflected two passes…Oct. 26, vs. San Diego, had 10 tackles (eight solo) and an eight-yard interception return. Interception of Philip Rivers at the New Orleans 10-yard line ended the Chargers’ scoring opportunity…Dominated at Tampa Bay, Nov. 30, with seven stops (six solo), one sack, one tipped pass, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery…Recovered a fumble and also added nine tackles at Chicago, Dec. 11…Closed season with 13 stops (10 solo) vs. Carolina, Dec. 28. 2007 – Selected as a defensive captain by Jets teammates, started seven games and made 39 tackles with an interception and two pass defenses before suffering a season-ending knee injury that would require surgery…Led the team with nine tackles at Buffalo, Sept. 30…Picked off an Eli Manning pass at N.Y. Giants, Oct. 7…Notched four solo tackles and a pair of passes defensed, vs. Philadelphia Oct. 14…Placed on injured reserve with knee injury, Oct. 27. 2006 – Started all 16 games at ILB, recording 116 tackles, an interception and four passes defensed…Led the team in stops (12) in win at Tennessee, Sept. 10…Put up 10 tackles and returned a recovered fumble 12 yards Sept. 24 at Buffalo…Led the team with 11 tackles and notched two passes defensed and one interception in win vs. Detroit, Oct. 22…Forced a fumble and added nine tackles at Miami, Dec. 25. 2005 – Earned team Most Valuable Player honors and his first Pro Bowl berth as he led the NFL with 187 tackles (143 solo), intercepted a pass, forced four fumbles, recovered a fumble and had four passes defensed…In Oct. 9 win vs. Tampa Bay, led the team with 14 tackles (11 solo) and a forced fumble…Made nine stops (seven solo) and notched a pass defense and his first INT of season at Atlanta, Oct. 24…Registered a career-high 18 tackles (14 solo), along with two pass defenses and one forced fumble, Nov. 20 at Denver…Notched a team-best 14 tackles, including one stop for a loss and forced a fumble at New England, Dec. 4…His 17 tackles led the team for fourth consecutive week vs. Patriots, Dec. 26. 2004 – Named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in his star-studded debut as he notched 118 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions, four passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery…Made first career start at Miami Oct. 3, tying for team-high with seven tackles…Recorded first career interception against San Francisco, Oct. 17, when he picked off a Tim Rattay pass with 1:44 left to seal win…Recorded seven tackles, two passes defensed and returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown in regular season finale at St. Louis…Started first playoff game and led team with 12 tackles and a sack in Wild Card win at San Diego…Notched postseason team-high 17 tackles in Divisional Playoff loss at Pittsburgh.
COLLEGE – Played in 47 games with 37 starts at the University of Miami (Fla) and totaled 371 tackles (234 solo), three sacks, seven fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles and an interception. Three-time Academic All-Big East Conference and two-time Butkus Award nominee (semi-finalist in 2002 and finalist in 2003). Selected first-team All-America by the American Football Coaches Association and Walter Camp, added second-team honors from Associated Press. Added first-team All-Big East Conference and Academic All-Big East honors as senior. A unanimous All-Big East and Academic All-Big East first-team choice and Butkus Award semi-finalist as a junior. Selected as UM’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2002-03 academic year. An All-Big East and Academic All-Big East first-team choice as a sophomore…Graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance.
PERSONAL – Three-year letterwinner and two-year captain at Coral Gables (Fla.) HS, where he notched 138 tackles and 11 sacks as a senior, and was a Miami Herald Class 5A-6A All-Dade first-team selection…In support of relief efforts for the Haiti Earthquake, Vilma, whose parents are natives of the nation, participated in a PSA soliciting fan donations that was aired nationally prior to NFL’s conference championship games…Produced and sold a t-shirt to benefit the efforts and has hosted annual celebrity waiter events since 2010 at Morton’s Steakhouse with proceeds going towards the construction of two charter schools…Honored as a Hometown Hero and 2006 National United Way spokesman for the NFL’s Lend a Hand campaign at the United Way Gridiron Gala in 2007…Hosts a financial conference for NFL players called “Jonathan Vilma’s Financial 51” to help players manage their money…Named a Board Member of the National Football Foundation's “Play It Smart” program, an educational program designed to use football as a vehicle to foster the academic, personal and career development of at-risk student athletes…Has given talks to schools about success on the field and in the classroom, and the importance of a healthy lifestyle…Represented the Miami-Dade County Community Foundation and Jonathan Vilma Charitable Fund on an episode of Wheel of Fortune, which aired on Sept. 6, 2006…Has his own website, www.jonvilma.com.
LB Jonathan Vilma holds a press conference after the New Orleans Saints vs Carolina Panthers game on Sunday, December 30, 2012.
New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma returns an interception off Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton 18 yards for a defensive touchdown.
LB Jonathan Vilma speaks with reporters after practice on Wednesday, December 12, 2012.
LB Jonathan Vilma speaks with reporters after practice on Friday, November 23, 2012.