It’s not surprising that a controversy mired in semantics has spawned settlement talks that quickly have become mired in semantics.
In response to an ESPN.com report that the NFL has offered Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma a deal that would drop his one-year suspension to an eight-game ban in exchange for a dismissal of his lawsuits against the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell, Steve Wyche of the league-owned media operation reports that the league “has made no settlement offer” to Vilma.
It’s likely a potato-potahto situation. Even if no formal offer has been made, it’s entirely possible that the lawyers have made it clear that such an outcome would be available, if Vilma would accept it. That common approach provides plausible deniability where, in a case like this one, someone blabs about the non-offer offer.
The fact that Vilma and/or someone close to him spilled the beans means that the offer may not be available any longer. It also means that Vilma and/or someone close to him likely doesn’t care, because Vilma has never said or done anything to suggest he’ll accept even an eight-play suspension.
The league needs to throw water on this one quickly because the initial reaction has been that the NFL is showing weakness. And that’s what the league apparently has done, via the media conglomerate that the league owns.