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Goodell might let Payton coach during appeal
“I said in a letter they have to appeal by April 2, I believe,” Goodell said Monday at the owners meetings in Palm Beach, Fla. “If he decides to appeal, I probably will allow him to continue and I would expedite the hearing and I would expedite my decision.
“We did meet twice and went through the information. If he has something else for me to consider, I will.”
Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said Payton was expected to speak later this week at the meetings. NFC coaches are scheduled to meet the media Wednesday morning. Payton has not addressed the media since the suspension, but has issued two written statements apologizing for the bounty system.
Goodell also is waiting for recommendations from the players’ union before punishing any players for participating in the three-year bounty system that targeted opponents for big hits. He has discussed the bounties with NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith.
Goodell added the league approached the Saints before their playoff game with the Lions in January and warned them to make sure the bounties had ceased. He sent Jeff Pash, the NFL’s lead counsel, and Jeffrey Miller, its director of security, to speak with owner Tom Benson.
“The point was to make it clear we had new and credible info and he should make it extremely clear with the game the next day there should be no bounty system in place,” Goodell said.
“This is a violation of a very serious rule,” Goodell said. “We have made player health and safety very clear as a priority. During the process of when this first was raised two years ago, there were denials. They were not forthright and that continued through our investigation.
“This is something with zero tolerance and is not acceptable.”
The league’s investigation is continuing, Goodell added.
“We will continue to follow on any information we have,” he said, “and will look for violations. If we get info, we will follow on it.
“Let’s be clear. We discussed it with the clubs today and I think it is fair to say non-contract bonus payments were happening around the league … and that’ll discontinue.”
By Emily Miller
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