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Who Will Coach the Saints?02:55
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New Orleans coach Sean Payton is pictured leaving the NFL owners meeting on Tuesday. The door could close on his season if his reported appeal is unsuccessful. (AP)
New Orleans coach Sean Payton is pictured leaving the NFL owners meeting on Tuesday. The door could close on his season if his reported appeal is unsuccessful. (AP)

On Friday, it was reported that New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, whom NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had suspended for a year, would appeal that ruling.

Payton's suspension, which had been scheduled to begin Sunday, was based on the coach's knowledge of the Saints' so-called "bounty-hunting" program, which paid New Orleans players to knock their opponents out of games, and the commissioner's conclusion that the coach lied to league officials attempting to investigate that program.

There has been speculation this week that that retired coach Bill Parcells might take over for Sean Payton. Parcells, who has led the Giants, Patriots, Jets, and Cowboys, said that if he was offered the opportunity, "I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't consider it."

In that assertion Bill Parcells referenced his own experience as a young coach, when mentors such as Chuck Noll, Chuck Knox, and Tom Landry "were there for me."

If Mr. Parcells is able to wrench this story about the consequences of promoting injury to opposing players for money and then lying about it into a morality tale about loyalty, responsibility, and not being a hypocrite, certainly the plot will have taken a weird turn.

But this is the National Football League we're talking about, a bizarro world in which the commissioner can blow the bugle for a longer regular season and simultaneously maintain that player health and safety is his primary concern…a world in which current players signed on to a program under which they tried to injure their fellows in the work place, while over 300 ex-players are suing the NFL for injuries they suffered on the job.

Those lawsuits pretty much obligated Roger Goodell to bring the hammer down on Sean Payton. When they need settling, the commissioner better be able to point to some evidence that he doesn't countenance mayhem for pay…except within the rules. No matter the disposition of Sean Payton's appeal or who ends up coaching the Saints, that's the challenge most likely to concern Mr. Goodell these days.

The commissioner's life was further complicated yesterday when DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFL Players' Association, said that although the commissioner has said he will determine punishments for Saints players, he has yet to provide the Players Association with any evidence implicating players in the "pay to injure" scheme.

This segment aired on March 31, 2012.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.

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