The NFL calls a report it has offered a settlement and reduced suspension to Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma completely inaccurate.
Vilma has been suspended for the 2012 season for his role in the Saints bounty program, which he adamantly has claimed did not exist. Citing anonymous sources, ESPN.com reported the league offered Vilma an eight-game suspension if he would drop his defamation lawsuit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
‘‘No such settlement offer has been made,’’ NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday. ‘‘We will continue to respect the court proceedings on this matter and have no further comment at this time.’’
A judge has ordered the league and Vilma’s representatives to hold confidential settlement talks. A person familiar with those talks told the Associated Press he had ‘‘not heard anything that concrete from anyone at the NFL’’ regarding cutting Vilma’s suspension to eight games.
The person, who spoke anonymously because the talks are private, added that he was aware of no offers from the league at all.
It is uncertain if Vilma would consider such a reduction in the suspension as he fights to have it overturned completely.
Peter Ginsberg, Vilma’s attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But he filed a motion in US District Court in Louisiana on Monday on behalf of his client, seeking ‘‘judicial attention’’ to comments Goodell recently made.
The filing claims ‘‘the NFL breached its CBA obligation to produce all evidence to be considered by the arbitrator in a ‘conduct detrimental’ proceeding; Goodell acted in an impermissibly biased manner; and, Goodell created and permitted a process tolerated neither by the CBA nor by federal law.’’
Vilma is one of four players suspended in the bounty scandal. Teammate Will Smith, a defensive end, got four games, while DE Anthony Hargrove, now with Green Bay, was docked eight games. Linebacker Scott Fujita, now with Cleveland, was suspended for three games.
Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire season.
Jets riled up
Tebowmania turned into Wrestlemania for the Jets during one big training camp throwdown.
About 20 players were involved in a brief brawl during a chippy practice after running back Joe McKnight and safety D'Anton Lynn tangled after a play.
Lynn, the son of Jets running backs coach Anthony Lynn, shoved McKnight out of bounds after a handoff. An angry McKnight then fired the football at Lynn.
‘‘That was a first,’’ Lynn said. ‘‘That’s never happened to me before, so I lost my temper for a second.’’
The two got into it, with McKnight charging Lynn and throwing a punch that didn’t land. Lynn then pushed McKnight — with help from cornerbacks Julian Posey and Donnie Fletcher — and all four went rolling through advertisement placards and into an area where reporters were watching practice.
Offensive and defensive players ran over to their tussling teammates and a pileup ensued. Several reporters scattered as the players jumped on each other and wrestled a few feet in front of a barricade where fans sit.
Coach Rex Ryan, along with several players, including Tim Tebow, ran over to break up the melee by pulling players off the pile.
It all lasted about a minute, and the Jets went back to team drills as if nothing happened — with none of the players suffering any apparent injuries.
Weeden gets call
Brandon Weeden is officially the Browns’ starting quarterback. Coach Pat Shurmur announced what had been an open secret after practice. Weeden, the No. 22 overall pick, will start Friday night in Detroit. Weeden, a 28-year-old rookie from Oklahoma State, has taken snaps with the first-team offense throughout training camp. Incumbent starter Colt McCoy is now in competition with 10-year veteran Seneca Wallace for the backup job . . . The Jaguars and first-round pick Justin Blackmon agreed to terms. The Oklahoma State wide receiver is the last first-round pick to reach a deal. The contract will be worth about $18.5 million for four years. Blackmon, who missed the first 11 days of training camp, was arrested in Stillwater, Okla., June 3 and charged with aggravated DUI when he registered a .24 alcohol level, three times the legal limit. He pleaded guilty at his court hearing July 24 . . . David Garrard is listed as the first-team quarterback on the Dolphins’ first depth chart, ahead of Matt Moore and first-round pick Ryan Tannehill as they try to win the starting job. First-year coach Joe Philbin called the quarterback battle ‘‘a fluid situation’’.
Seattle takes T.O. Continued...