Goodell wants Saints appeals heard this week
NEW YORK (AP) - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says Saints coach Sean Payton and other New Orleans officials suspended for being involved in the team’s bounty system could have their appeals heard in the next few days.
Payton, New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant coach Joe Vitt were suspended for their roles in the team’s bounty program, which offered improper cash bonuses for big hits that either knocked opponents out of games or left them needing help off of the field.
Payton was suspended for the upcoming season. Loomis received an eight-game suspension, and Vitt was suspended for six games. The Saints organization was fined $500,000 and had second-round draft picks this year and next taken away by the league as part of the punishment.
Donald Yee, Payton’s agent, released a statement later Tuesday that did not rule out a meeting with the commissioner later in the week but said, “We’ve just heard from the league office today for the first time, and at the moment, we are trying to schedule a mutually convenient time for the proceedings to occur, particularly given the upcoming Good Friday, Passover and Easter holidays.”
Payton’s suspension originally was to have started on Sunday, but it’s been on hold pending his appeal.
After Saints coaches and executives, next to be determined is whether players who were involved in the bounty program will also be disciplined.
“We shared more information with them so they’re up to speed,” he said.
“I hope to be able to make some decisions soon,” Goodell said.
“I believe in getting as much information as possible,” he said. “We respect the players. This is important because it’s a player safety matter. We think that we need to get some input from them.”
According to the league, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to any New Orleans player who sidelined Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre during the 2010 NFC championship game. No other players involved have been publicly identified by the NFL.
“We’re players. We’re going out there to make plays. That’s what the game is about,” he said. “You play defense, your job is to tackle.