- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 27, 2012

PALM BEACH, FLA. (AP) - Sean Payton’s season-long suspension for New Orleans’ bounty system begins at the end of the week.


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday an appeal by Payton could leave him in charge of the Saints _ at least temporarily.

“I said in a letter they have to appeal by April 2, I believe,” Goodell said at the owners meetings. “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.”

Otherwise, Payton will be gone until after the Super Bowl for his involvement in the bounty program that ran for three seasons, including the team’s 2009 championship run.

Asked if Payton’s punishment was as much for lying to him as it was for the actual bounties program, Goodell told a packed news conference about a pattern of untruths.

“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.”

Payton’s agent, Donald Yee, said “no decisions have been made about an appeal” by his client.

Sean fully supports the league’s player safety goals,” Yee said. “Given this, he probably won’t address the entire league” when he arrives at the owners meetings.

Payton has not addressed the media since the suspension, but has issued two written statements apologizing for the bounty system. He could speak when NFC coaches meet the media Wednesday morning.

Goodell also is waiting for recommendations from the players’ union before punishing any players for participating in the bounty system that targeted opponents for big hits. He has discussed the bounties with NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith.

“We would like to do (the players’ sanctions) as soon as reasonable,” Goodell said. “I expect to talk to him by the end of the week. We shared our confidential reports with him.”

The league’s investigation is continuing, Goodell added.

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