04-02-2012, 06:02 PM
NFL, NFLPA MEET ON SAINTS' BOUNTY ISSUE, GOODELL OK WITH PARCELLS (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/football/nfl/04/02/saints.players.ap/index.html?sct=nfl_t2_a3)

"NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he won't stand in the way if the <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/teams/saints">New Orleans
Saints</a> ask Bill Parcells to take over as interim coach for suspended Sean
Payton.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">

"That's their decision. They need to make those decisions and we'll move
forward," Goodell said Monday at the opening of an NFL pop-up store featuring
new team apparel. "Bill's a great coach, and I'm sure (he) will add a lot of
personality and intrigue. And he's as competitive as they get so I'm sure he'll
do a good job."</p>

Before the Saints pick someone to run the team this year, though, Goodell
still has to rule on Payton's appeal of his season-long suspension, along with
the appeals of shorter suspensions to assistant coach Joe Vitt and general
manager Mickey Loomis and penalties handed down to the team.</p>

Goodell expects to hear the appeals this week, and hopes to making a ruling
shortly thereafter.</p>

"Part of it depends exactly when the appeal is going to be, and second of all
what information comes up in the appeal," said Goodell, who has met with Payton
twice before the appeal was filed.</p>

Meanwhile, league officials were meeting with NFL Players' Association
representatives Monday about penalties involving players who took part in the
bounty program.</p>

The union has asked the NFL to provide it with all the information from the
league's investigation that revealed 22 to 27 defensive players were part of the
Saints' pay-for-pain bounty pool. The pool awarded thousands of dollars in cash
bonuses from 2009-11 for vicious hits that knocked targeted opponents out of

One example, according to the league: Linebacker <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/players/6771">Jonathan
Vilma</a> offered $10,000 to any New Orleans player who sidelined <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/teams/vikings">Minnesota
Vikings</a> quarterback <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/players/1025">Brett
Favre</a> during the 2010 NFC championship game.</p>

Goodell said the league has given the NFLPA two confidential reports on the

"I think we all need to move forward," he said. "We've been open about what
we've been able to find. We released it publicly."</p>

The commissioner said he's hopeful the NFLPA will have a recommendation soon
after meeting with league officials.</p>

The results of the appeal could well affect whether Parcells comes out of
retirement to take over as interim coach while his former offensive assistant
and protege is suspended.</p>

Parcells has said he would consider coaching the Saints if asked. Payton and
Loomis played golf with the former NFL coach last week to talk to him about the
team's predicament.</p>

Parcells, who turns 71 in August, led the <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/teams/giants">New York
Giants</a> to two Super Bowl titles, and also coached the <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/teams/patriots">New England
Patriots</a>, <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/teams/jets">New York
Jets</a> and <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/teams/cowboys">Dallas

There has been criticism of Goodell for allowing Payton to participate in
picking his successor, but the commissioner says the decision rests with Saints
owner Tom Benson.</p>

"These are management decisions that Tom Benson will have to sign off on,"
Goodell said. "He will get recommendations, I'm sure from Sean and Mickey and
others, and make his determination. If it ends up being Parcells, then they've
gone through the full process."</p>

On Sunday, the NFLPA told players involved in the bounty case that there's a
chance they could face criminal charges and it hired outside counsel to
represent them if needed.</p>

Asked about possible criminal charges, Goodell said, "Those aren't my

"To me, we're going to do what's right," he said. "We're going to make sure
our rules are enforced. And when they're violated we'll take the appropriate

On March 21, Goodell suspended Payton for all of the upcoming season, Loomis
for eight games, Vitt for six games, and former defensive coordinator Gregg
Williams indefinitely, a penalty that will last at least one season. Goodell
also fined the Saints $500,000 and took away second-round draft picks in 2012
and 2013.</p>

Williams, who left the Saints after last season to join the St. Louis Rams,
ran the bounty program.</p>

It's still unclear whether the appeals will change anything, but Goodell said
Monday he's open to new evidence. He noted, though, that the investigation has
lasted years, in large part because the Saints didn't come clean when first
asked about the bounties.</p>

"We've met with various personnel in the Saints, and for three years they
denied that this was going on," Goodell said. "It's clear it was going on, and
that's one of the reasons the punishment was harsh. ... They denied it
repeatedly. And eventually we were able to get a credible source that came up
late last year that gave us information that indicated clearly that it was going

Even then, Goodell said, the Saints still denied it.</p>

"We want to hear if there's information we're not aware of," he said. "We'll
take that into consideration and we'll deal with it from there."