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.’’
According to the Louisiana filing, Goodell ‘‘has revised the allegation’’ against the Saints to engaging in a program that rewarded players for clean plays ‘‘that did not involve designated specific opposing players for injury.’’
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.
‘‘I felt like I could hardly breathe,’’ said Lynn, an undrafted free agent from Penn State. ‘‘Everyone was on top of me, so I had to get out of there.’’
Meanwhile, several other players jokingly acted as if they were taking swings at each other.
McKnight said Ryan told him: ‘‘Keep playing hard.’’
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.
‘‘Sometimes, offense and defense, you’re out there competing and sometimes fights happen,’’ Lynn said. ‘‘It’s nothing personal.’’
The two said they would talk to each other, and things would be smoothed over.
‘‘We’re not trying to hurt each other,’’ Lynn said. ‘‘I doubt he was trying to hurt me and I wasn’t trying to hurt him. It just kind of escalated for a minute. It was more wrestling than anything.’’
Lynn did see the irony in the fact that he was fighting with a guy who’s coached by his father.
‘‘Yeah,’’ D'Anton Lynn said with a smile. ‘‘He was probably rooting for Joe.’’
McKnight said he didn’t even realize who he was going up against until his teammates told him.
‘‘It was something that just happened spur of the moment,’’ McKnight said. ‘‘I'm over it now. We’re teammates. I love him, just like I love his Dad. So, we’re moving on.’’
Quarterback Mark Sanchez said he was watching the fight from ‘‘an advantageous position’’ and wasn’t happy about the scuffle.
‘‘There’s no excuse for it,’’ Sanchez said. ‘‘There’s no throwing a ball at a teammate. There’s no shoving a guy out of bounds into the signs. One, it doesn’t look good, and two, it sends the wrong message to our team. We want to take care of our guys. I get it, guys are competitive, guys are fiery. That’s nice, but you want to take it to the brink and compete to the last possible moment and always remember to protect your teammates.
‘‘So, I don’t like to see it.’’
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.
Terrell Owens had a tryout with the Seahawks, and hours later the team announced it had agreed to terms with the 38-year-old receiver. He hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2010 season with Cincinnati, when he caught 72 passes for 983 yards and 9 touchdowns. He then had surgery on his left knee and didn’t receive any offers to play last season. Owens had 35 catches for 420 yards and 10 touchdowns while playing eight games for the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League. He was released and lost an ownership stake in the team in May . . . The Bears signed wide receiver Rashied Davis to a one-year contract to replace the retired Devin Thomas.Davis spent his first six years with Chicago and played for Detroit last season . . . Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas may not be lost for the season. After getting a third opinion, the projected starting cornerback has decided to try to rehabilitate his injured right knee rather than have surgery. Thomas saw noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews Monday . . . Veteran safety Brodney Pool, signed on a one-year deal with Dallas in March, was released along with rookie cornerback Isaac Madison. Dallas had to clear roster spots to sign receiver David Little and running back Javarris Williams . . . The Broncos signed veteran free agent linebacker Keith Brooking. The 15-year pro played his last three seasons in Dallas and has been to the Pro Bowl five times.