NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the media Wednesday and promised that a meeting with the NFL Players Association was forthcoming to determine player sanctions stemming from the New Orleans Saints' bounty fiasco.
Even with that ahead, it has been a signature month for Goodell, and no matter how you feel about the premium he places on player safety, there's no arguing the Commissioner's conviction on the matter.
"We are not going to let cash payments go between players," he said. "The rules are quite clear."
Goodell -- who took a moment to shake hands with Saints coach Sean Payton on Tuesday -- understands he's not about to win the key to the city of New Orleans. He expressed great admiration for a Saints fan base strapped into a roller-coaster that has pulled them from the fallout of Hurricane Katrina to the glories of Super Bowl XLIV and back down into a troubling valley once again.
"Listen, I understand the frustration of the Saints fans. And I have great respect for them," Goodell said. "... I saw firsthand the Saints' passion and their fans' passion. I clearly understand that frustration, but ... everyone has to understand there are 32 teams, and everybody is going to have to operate by the same rules. If we don't do that, the integrity of the game, and what fans love about the game, will be impacted negatively."
Goodell punctuated the bounty riff by stressing his unchanging responsibility to protect the game. Even if it means Payton takes a year off. Even if Gregg Williams is pricing cabins in western Siberia right now. Even if Saints fans, today, wonder what's ahead.
Same rules for all 32 teams. No matter what.