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Saints' 'bounty' story doesn't end with appeal decision

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Fans are tired of hearing about bounties. That's why it's so tempting to see the news Tuesday that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld all player discipline in the New Orleans Saints' "bounty" scandal as the end of a long process.

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If only it were that simple.

This entire public battle has taught us that this story won't be over until the players say it's over. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma is waging war on Goodell and the NFL on multiple fronts. Those battles still have to play out. Vilma is also unlikely to take this news without firing back through the media.

Eventually, Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, Saints defensive lineman Will Smith, and Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita will return to work. Talk about the bounty scandal isn't going to end here. It's going to be a part of everything the Saints do all year. We'll be reminded of it every time interim Saints coach Joe Vitt opens his mouth.

Heck, it's possible that the investigation and appeals process aren't even over. Goodell's letter to players started with frustration that the players hadn't participated in the appeals process:

"Throughout this entire process, including your appeals, and despite repeated invitations and encouragement to do so, none of you has offered any evidence that would warrant reconsideration of your suspensions," he wrote. "Instead, you elected not to participate meaningfully in the appeal process."

Goodell said he's still willing to listen to the players.

"While this decision constitutes my final and binding determination under the CBA, I of course retain the inherent authority to reduce a suspension should facts be brought to my attention warranting the exercise of that discretion," he wrote. "The record confirms that each of you was given multiple chances to meet with me to present your side of the story. You are each still welcome to do so."

We don't expect the players to take Goodell up on this offer. Then again, very little about this bounty story has gone as expected. NFL Network's Albert Breer put it well.

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