The old in the news
US-based British sportswriter Simon Veness highlights the latest NFL news - or lack of it...
Last Updated: 08/06/12 4:50pm
OK, so I've been away for a couple of weeks (cruising the Danube from Romania to Austria, would you believe? Actually, highly recommended) and thought I would catch up with a marathon session of online reading from the past fortnight.
Settle down with me for a bit while I try to digest all the latest news from the NFL front, which serves to underline the old phrase, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Here's what I found...
The NFL is being sued. Again. Yes, the protracted and ongoing wrangle over the thorny issue of past players with serious brain injuries has not gone away. In fact, quite the opposite.
Not only have the 2,000-plus former players NOT taken a step back in their dispute with the league over how concussions were treated back in the day, they have now consolidated their legal action into one massive lawsuit that could potentially sink football with all hands.
Of course, that is extremely unlikely to happen as it still needs a judge to validate the lawsuit, find a way to set a date for this amorphous mess, and then shoe-horn all 2,000-plus complainants into court.
But, when sport resorts to the courts, anything can happen, and the kind of damages the lawsuit will be looking for could be in the billions rather than millions. Not the kind of scenario to make the league's legal counsel sleep easy at night.
But, nothing really new there. So, next headline...
Jonathan Vilma is stating his innocence on Bounty-gate charges. Again. The New Orleans linebacker - singled out by Commissioner Roger Goodell as one of the player ring-leaders of the Saints' illegal system - is stepping up his legal action against Goodell with even more 'show me the evidence' accusations.
And here's where it is getting increasingly tiresome and ugly. The NFL seems to be waging a war of attrition through the media, drip-feeding small bits of the 'evidence' against the Bountygate Four which, in turn, leads to Vilma's attorney hitting back in equally bitter fashion.
This is in danger of becoming a sickening soap opera of the worst kind, the kind that leaves neither party smelling particularly sweet, and The Commish badly needs to sort this out, quickly and transparently, for this to have any kind of closure.
A tentative date of June 18 has been set for the league to hear the appeals of the quartet in question, but you have to think this is not ending anytime soon.
Again, though, it is nothing new in the news stakes, hence we go on in search of something different...
The Saints have made a new offer to Drew Brees. Again. Or maybe they haven't. Once more, there is only rumour and counter rumour down in The Big Easy, and the big question over the quarterback's new contract rumbles on.
With everything that's happened in the land of jazz and Mardi Gras, you'd think they might want to get something, anything sorted out, yet this increasingly bitter back-and-forth over Brees' long-term future still seems no nearer to a resolution.
Ho hum, more for the 'nothing new' pile. Let's try again...
Terrell Owens has been cut by his team. Again. OK, so this is slightly different in that the legendary T.O. of 'get your popcorn ready' fame has worn out his welcome with the mighty Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League, which gives you an idea how far the ex-Dallas, Philadelphia, Buffalo, San Francisco and Cincinnati star has fallen.
But the fact it took this publicity-stunt-on-wheels just four months to fall apart, amid claims Owens is now bankrupt and close to personal ruin, will surprise precisely nobody on this side of the pond. The fact that it made the news at all might be the only shocking element, judging it by the old 'man-bites-dog' news formula.
OK then, one more try...
Chad Ochocinco is looking for a new team. Again. Aaaagghh!! Didn't ANYTHING new happen while I was away waltzing on the Blue Danube? At least in Austria I wasn't bombarded with headlines about Mozart's wild behaviour or with complaints about the carving up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire post World War One (even if it is a fascinating history lesson).
It goes on. Troubled Detroit defensive lineman Nick Fairley is in more bother with the law. Again. A top draft pick (step forward Justin Blackmon, newly anointed star of the Jacksonville Jaguars) has also fallen foul of those tricky legal stipulations about not drinking and driving. Again.
Oh, and surprise, surprise, a fight has broken out at a team's mini-camp (no prizes for guessing it was New Orleans - can't that team stay out of the headlines for a MINUTE?).
It all goes to show that, for all the non-stop focus on the league and its circus-like ability to drum up publicity, there isn't a whole lot that's new when you take a step back from it all.
Maybe I need to take a month off next time. Excuse me, Mr Sports Editor, there's this round-the-world cruise I'm quite keen to try...