Payton has one week to appeal punishment

John Kryk

By John Kryk, Toronto Sun

Saints head coach Sean Payton has until Monday to appeal his one-year suspension for his role in the Bountygate scandal. (SEAN GARDNER/Reuters file photo)

Saints head coach Sean Payton has until Monday to appeal his one-year suspension for his role in the Bountygate scandal. (SEAN GARDNER/Reuters file photo)

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Decisions, decisions.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters after Day 1 of the league's annual meeting that New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has until next Monday to appeal his one-year Bountygate suspension.

Reports on Monday said Payton had yet to make that call.

Last week, Goodell slammed the Saints for conducting a program that saw players rewarded with cash bounties for various levels of wicked hits on targeted rival players — and for repeatedly denying it to league investigators afterward.

Goodell fined the Saints $500,000 and stripped the team of its second-round draft pick both this year and next. He also and suspended Payton, then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (indefinitely), GM Mickey Loomis (eight games), and assistant coach Joe Vitt (six games).

Reporters searched The Breakers resort up and down for Payton on Monday, but he hadn't arrived. He was expected to be here Tuesday and face the press no later than Wednesday morning at an NFC coaches breakfast.

His suspension doesn't begin until Sunday.

"If he decides to appeal, then we will go through the process," Goodell said at a much-delayed Monday night news conference. "We did meet twice and had extensive discussions ... If he decides to appeal I assume it's because he would like to discuss it further.

"If he has something else he would like me to consider, I would certainly do that."

In that event, could he keep working?

"I would probably allow him to continue," Goodell said, "but I would expedite (the matter)."

Goodell, or his designate, would hear the appeal, an NFL spokesman said Monday night.

If you're Payton, though, why bother?

If the man you lied to, and who severely punished you for it, is the same man who decides whether to uphold your appeal — well, good luck with that.

Maybe that's why Payton seems to be moving on. Reports surfaced Monday that Payton talked to Bill Parcells about temping for him.

Bountygate continues to be the dominant topic of conversation here. We're just not hearing anything in public from the principals.

Behind closed doors? A different matter.

A "disheartened" Saints owner Tom Benson — who was kept in the dark all along about the illegal bounties (or "non-contract bonuses" in NFL legalese) — gave an "appropriate" speech to the other owners on Monday, according to Steve Wyche of NFL Network.

How much of Goodell's punishment was attributable to the stonewalling and lying by the Saints' perps? The commissioner explained it this way.

"We had made player health and safety very clear as a priority. I addressed it with ... all of our personnel, several times a year. It's a serious violation of our policy.

"They, frankly, were not forthright — and (the bounties) continued, even through our investigation ... It is not acceptable to hide that (and) put our players at risk."

As to when Saints players will be punished, Goodell said he would like to address that matter "as soon as is reasonable."

"But I said we would like to get a recommendation from the players (association)," Goodell said. "We just shared our confidential report with them."

The commissioner would bear in mind competitive ramifications with any player suspensions, he said. Perhaps that would mean staggering the suspensions so as to dilute their impact on New Orleans' ability to compete.

Goodell said there has been no evidence that any other teams have ever conducted a program for injuring specific players on other teams. That apparently includes the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins teams that Williams coached — and where he reportedly had similar bounty programs — prior to the Saints.

But if the league receives incriminating information about any other bounty program, it will "aggressively" pursue it, Goodell said.

"We have not said that everybody (else) has got a free pass here."

Should they accept their suspensions without appeal, Payton, Loomis and Vitt will not be allowed to enter team facilities nor have any contact with the club.

"I also have to be reasonable about that," Goodell added, "but they're not going to be coaching from home."

Or anywhere. Probably even if they appeal.


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