NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton is seeking relief from the NFL for his role in New Orleans’ bounty system. And so is his assistant, Joe Vitt.
The coaches decided to file appeals on Friday.
Payton has decided to file an appeal with the league on his season-long suspension, a person familiar with the decision said. Not long after that, Vitt’s agent said his client was doing the same for his six-game suspension.
Payton’s appeal will also ask NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his guidance on the parameters of the suspension, the person told The Associated Press Friday on condition of anonymity because the league and the Saints have not announced Payton’s plan to appeal.
David Cornwell, said in an e-mail to the AP he and his client – who also coaches linebackers – had talked about Vitt’s appeal. ProFootballTalk.com first reported Vitt’s decision.
“Joe Vitt and I discussed our concern that his appeal be consistent with the association’s view that coaches also coach sportsmanship and fair play.” Cornwell said. “Based on these discussions, I am confident that Joe’s appeal and his long history in the NFL are consistent with our belief that there is no place at any level of football for bounties that target players.”
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.
The commissioner has since said the Saints’ coach would be allowed to continue working if he appealed, while the process played out. However, he added that the appeal 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 NFL 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 protégé is suspended.
Parcells has said he would consider coaching the Saints if asked.