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Saints 'bounty' discipline won't change, commissioner says

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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The New Orleans Saints, along with coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant coach Joe Vitt, were notified Monday that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decided to uphold the discipline that he imposed for continuing violations of the league's anti-bounty rule over a three-year period.

The league announced the decision four days after Goodell spent roughly six hours speaking with Payton (suspended for the 2012 season), Loomis (eight-game suspension) and Vitt (six-game suspension), who hoped to reduce suspensions handed down by the league.

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The Saints' bounty program offered cash bonuses for big hits that knocked targeted opponents out of games or hurt them enough that they required help getting to the sideline.

Payton's season-long suspension without pay for the 2012 NFL season will begin April 16. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told NFL Network's Albert Breer that Payton "cannot be involved in any coaching activities, he can't be at the facility, or with the team at games."

Payton also isn't permitted to have contact with Vitt or Loomis regarding football matters while suspended, a source familiar with knowledge of the situation told NFL.com's Steve Wyche.

Suspensions for Loomis and Vitt begin with the start of the 2012 regular season. At the conclusion of the coaches' suspensions, Goodell will review the status of each to determine their eligibility for reinstatement.

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who's now with the St. Louis Rams, hasn't appealed his indefinite suspension.

Goodell said in a statement released by the NFL that the parties will be expected to cooperate in any further proceedings and to assist in the development and implementation of programs to instruct players and coaches at all levels on principles of player safety, fair play and sportsmanship.

Goodell added he would consider mitigating the Saints' financial penalties if they embrace the opportunity and participate in a constructive way. In the case of the team, the commissioner said he would consider if there are factors that would support modifying the forfeiture of the Saints' 2013 second-round draft choice.

If the team is cooperative, the league might change the round of the Saints' lost draft pick, according to Aiello.

Goodell also kept in place a $500,000 fine for the franchise and the loss of a second-round draft pick this year.

Beyond the punishment for Saints coaches and executives, the NFL still has to determine if players who were involved in the bounty program also will be disciplined. The NFL has said as many as 27 players could be sanctioned for their role in the scandal.

The NFL Players Association recently retained the international law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski to assist the players allegedly involved in the scandal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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