Commish: Interim coach up to Saints
NEW YORK -- While NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is deciding on punishment for players and listening to appeals in the Saints' bounty case, he says he won't stand in the way if New Orleans asks Bill Parcells to take over as interim coach.
"That's their decision. They need to make those decisions and we'll move forward," Goodell said Monday at the opening of an NFL pop-up store featuring new team apparel. "Bill's a great coach, and I'm sure will add a lot of personality and intrigue. And he's as competitive as they get so I'm sure he'll do a good job."
Before the Saints pick someone to run the team this year, Goodell still has to rule on coach Sean Payton's appeal of his season-long suspension, along with the appeals of shorter suspensions to assistant coach Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis and penalties handed down to the team.
Bill's a great coach, and I'm sure will add a lot of personality and intrigue. And he's as competitive as they get so I'm sure he'll do a good job.” -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
on Saints asking Bill Parcells to coach
The league had planned to hold the appeal hearings Tuesday afternoon, but now believes it will have to push back the date, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Monday.
According to the source, Payton and Loomis do not want to have the appeal heard Tuesday and would like it pushed back as much as possible. The league would like to hear the appeal as quickly as possible and was preparing to have it Tuesday afternoon, but due to the setback has yet to make a final determination on when the hearing will be, according to the source.
Goodell said Monday he expects to hear the appeal this week, and hopes to make a ruling shortly thereafter.
"Part of it depends exactly when the appeal is going to be, and second of all what information comes up in the appeal," said Goodell, who had met with Payton twice before the appeal was filed.
Meanwhile, league officials met for two-plus hours with NFL Players Association officials Monday evening about penalties involving players who took part in the bounty program, according to NFL.com. The meeting ended at about 6:45 p.m. ET.
The union has asked the NFL to provide it with all the information from the league's investigation that revealed 22 to 27 defensive players were part of the Saints' pay-for-pain bounty pool. The pool awarded thousands of dollars in cash bonuses from 2009 to 2011 for vicious hits that knocked targeted opponents out of games.
"Our duty is to view and understand the evidence and to ensure it is substantiated and concrete," union executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement Monday. "We also have an obligation to ensure that our players have fair due process. It is not our duty to give recommendations for discipline in a vacuum without information or without consultation with our players. It seems as if this entire matter has played out primarily in public, with regard for the fairness of the process an afterthought.
"Our team will meet with the NFL today, ask hard questions and will expect to see all documents and direct evidence of a pay-to-injure scheme. That is what a fair process dictates. I will get a full briefing by our team and after that, the next step will be to consult with players about what was learned. Only then will we confer with the NFL."
One example, according to the league: Linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to any New Orleans player who sidelined Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre during the 2010 NFC Championship Game.
Goodell said the league has given the NFLPA two confidential reports on the investigation.
"I think we all need to move forward," he said. "We've been open about what we've been able to find. We released it publicly."
The commissioner said he's hopeful the NFLPA will have a recommendation soon after meeting with league officials.
The results of the appeal could well affect whether Parcells comes out of retirement to take over as interim coach while his former offensive assistant and protégé is suspended.
Parcells has said he would consider coaching the Saints if asked. Payton and Loomis played golf with the former NFL coach last week to talk to him about the team's predicament.
There has been criticism of Goodell for allowing Payton to participate in picking his successor, but the commissioner says the decision rests with Saints owner Tom Benson.
"These are management decisions that Tom Benson will have to sign off on," Goodell said. "He will get recommendations, I'm sure from Sean and Mickey and others, and make his determination. If it ends up being Parcells, then they've gone through the full process."
On Sunday, the NFLPA told players involved in the bounty case that there's a chance they could face criminal charges and it hired outside counsel to represent them if needed.
Mailbag: Logic Behind Payton's Appeal
It might seem odd, but Saints coach Sean Payton did the right thing by appealing his suspension, John Clayton writes. Mailbag
Asked about possible criminal charges, Goodell said, "Those aren't my decisions."
"To me, we're going to do what's right," he said. "We're going to make sure our rules are enforced. And when they're violated we'll take the appropriate discipline."
On March 21, Goodell suspended Payton for all of the upcoming season, Loomis for eight games, Vitt for six games, and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely, a penalty that will last at least one season. Goodell also fined the Saints $500,000 and took away second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013.
Williams, who left the Saints after last season to join the St. Louis Rams, ran the bounty program.
It's still unclear whether the appeal will change anything, but Goodell said Monday he's open to new evidence. He noted, though, that the investigation has lasted years, in large part because the Saints didn't come clean when first asked about the bounties.
"We've met with various personnel in the Saints, and for three years they denied that this was going on," Goodell said. "It's clear it was going on, and that's one of the reasons the punishment was harsh. ... They denied it repeatedly. And eventually we were able to get a credible source that came up late last year that gave us information that indicated clearly that it was going on."
Even then, Goodell said, the Saints still denied it.
"We want to hear if there's information we're not aware of," he said. "We'll take that into consideration and we'll deal with it from there."
Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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