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Saints going all in with bounty appeals

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NEW ORLEANS -- Saints coach Sean Payton is appealing his season-long suspension from the NFL for his role in New Orleans' bounty system. And he's not the only one looking for a little relief from the penalties handed down by commissioner Roger Goodell.

General manager Mickey Loomis, assistant coach Joe Vitt and the Saints organization each decided to appeal on Friday.

Payton will also ask Goodell for guidance on the parameters of the suspension, which runs through next year's Super Bowl, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the league and the Saints did not announce Payton's plan to appeal.

Saints spokesman Greg Bensel did confirm that Loomis was appealing his eight-game suspension and, separately, the team would challenge its $500,000 fine and loss of second-round draft picks this year and in 2013.

Vitt, suspended for six games, is doing the same. David Cornwell, representing Vitt as head of the NFL Coaches Association, confirmed the decision in an email to the AP.

Goodell last week announced the suspension of Payton, starting Sunday, for his role in connection with New Orleans' bounty system, which offered improper cash bonuses for big hits that either knocked opponents out of games or left them needing help off of the field.

Former defensive co-ordinator Gregg Williams, who left the Saints after last season to join the St. Louis Rams, ran the bounty program and has been suspended indefinitely.

The commissioner has said since the unprecedented penalties were announced that the Saints' coach would likely be allowed to continue working as his appeal was resolved. However, he added that the challenge would be expedited, indicating that Payton would not likely be able to add on much work time should his appeal be upheld.

Goodell also said at the NFL owners meetings this week in Florida that Payton could have some contact with the team but did not go into detail, and Payton indicated that he was still a little unclear about that, as well.

With all the uncertainty, Payton is trying to compress as much planning for the 2012 season into whatever time he has left at Saints headquarters this weekend.

The NFL could not immediately provide details on how Payton's decision to file an appeal on Friday would affect the timeline for the process to play out.

"The decision to appeal is for Sean Payton to make and announce as he deems appropriate," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "If there are appeals, the commissioner will arrange for expedited hearings, as he stated at the league meeting."

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

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 31, 2012 C9

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