For the past week Sean Payton has privately and publicly wrestled with the idea of appealing his season-long suspension for his role in the Bountygate scandal.
Now he’s reportedly made a decision, and he’s chosen to fight the man.
Payton will appeal his penalty, with The Associated Press reporting that he’ll “ask NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his guidance on the parameters of the suspension.” That’s presumably a reference to Payton’s stated desire to launch an appeal so that he’ll be given another opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting with Goodell to discuss the specific framework of his punishment. Gregg Williams, meanwhile, won’t appeal his indefinite suspension.
Earlier this week during the NFL owners meetings the commissioner said that while Payton won’t be able to coach during his suspension, he also won’t be banned entirely from the team, so some clarification is needed there. It’s possible–and I’m just speculating here, because I do that sometimes–that Goodell will allow Payton some basic, simple access (i.e: he can attend games).
Goodell has also said that he’ll expedite Payton’s appeal, and ESPN’s Rachel Nichols reported that a ruling will be issued in “days, not weeks.” So while Payton is permitted to remain with the Saints in his normal capacity as his appeal is evaluated, the process will be brief, and the odds of him still being with the team a month from now during the draft reside somewhere between slim and zero.
While the optimistic hope here is that Payton’s historic, unprecedented suspension is reduced, the far more realistic outcome is no reduction at all. Actually, that’s more than just the realistic outcome. It’s a fact, and there’s no imaginable scenario in which Goodell allows Payton et al to squirm loose from under his foot when we’re just over a week removed from his original ruling.
When Goodell unleashes the fury of his wicked hammer, he needs a compelling reason to relent, and this suspension isn’t rooted in just one player being a drunken fool in a Georgia washroom stall. This was an entire team, and a team that Payton’s responsible for, even if he wasn’t directly tied to Gregg Williams’ bounties.
The only certainty we have right now is the continued lack of clarity on the Bill Parcells front. Parcells has hinted strongly to anyone who’s willing to listen that he’s interested in the Saints job if he’s asked to fill-in for Payton, and he met with GM Mickey Loomis this week.
But a formal offer hasn’t been slid his way yet, and now that Payton’s launching his appeal, Parcells will continue to wait.