Saints' Payton to appeal suspension
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton will appeal Friday the one-year suspension levied against him for his role in the team's bounty program, SI.com's Don Banks has learned.
The appeal will be heard by commissioner Roger Goodell. With it, Payton will seek the commissioner's guidance on the parameters of the suspension, such as how much contact with players he can have. Goodell said at the NFL meetings this week that Payton could have some contact with the team, but didn't elaborate.
The ban dealt to Payton was originally set to begin Sunday, April 1, but Payton will be able to continue working through the appeal process. Goodell has previously said that any appeal from Payton will be heard on an expedited timeline.
The team is currently determining how to move forward without Payton on the sidelines this year. They've spoken with Bill Parcells, a mentor of Payton's, reportedly about the interim head coaching job, and could also hand the role to an assistant already in house. The results of the appeal could sway the Saints' thinking about which direction to go.
Payton's suspension was part of a historic disciplinary decision announced on March 21 that also included suspensions for GM Mickey Loomis, assistant coach Joe Vitt and former Saints/current Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as well a $500,000 fine for the franchise and the loss of two second-round draft picks.
The league announced on March 2 the findings of an investigation that began in 2010, stating that Williams led an illegal program lasting from 2009 to 2011 that paid players for injuring opponents as well as making big plays. Among the players the league found were targeted by the Saints were Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton, with 22 to 27 Saints defenders taking part in the program.
The investigation also found that Payton initially lied to league investigators about the existence of the program, which Goodell indicated added to the resulting penalties.
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