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Goodell might let Sean Payton coach during appeal

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FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2012 file photo, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton yells during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Detroit Lions, in New Orleans. The NFL has suspended Payton for the 2012 season, and former

FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2012 file photo, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton yells during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Detroit Lions, in New Orleans. The NFL has suspended Payton for the 2012 season, and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is banned from the league indefinitely because of the team’s bounty program that targeted opposing players. Also Wednesday, March 21, 2012, Goodell suspended Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular-season games of 2012, and assistant coach Joe Vitt has to sit out the first six games.

Bill Haber, File, Associated Press

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell might allow Sean Payton to coach the Saints while he appeals his season-long suspension for his role in the team's bounties program.

"I said in a letter they have to appeal by April 2, I believe," Goodell said Monday at the owners meetings in Palm Beach, Fla. "If he decides to appeal, I probably will allow him to continue and I would expedite the hearing and I would expedite my decision.

"We did meet twice and went through the information. If he has something else for me to consider, I will."

Payton's agent, Donald Yee, said "no decisions have been made about an appeal" by his client.

"Sean fully supports the league's player safety goals," Yee said. "Given this, he probably won't address the entire league" when he arrives at the owners meetings.

Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said Payton was expected to speak later this week at the meetings. NFC coaches are scheduled to meet the media Wednesday morning.

Goodell also is waiting for recommendations from the players' union before punishing any players for participating in the three-year bounty system that targeted opponents for big hits. He has discussed the bounties with NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith.

Goodell added the league approached the Saints before their playoff game with the Lions in January and warned them to make sure the bounties had ceased. He sent Jeff Pash, the NFL's lead counsel, and Jeffrey Miller, its director of security, to speak with owner Tom Benson.

"The point was to make it clear we had new and credible info and he should make it extremely clear with the game the next day there should be no bounty system in place," Goodell said.

Asked if Payton's punishment was as much for lying to him as it was for the actual bounties program, Goodell told a packed news conference about a pattern of untruths.

"This is a violation of a very serious rule," Goodell said. "we have made player health and safety very clear as a priority. During the process of when this first was raised two years ago, there were denials. They were not forthright and that continued through our investigation.

"This is something with zero tolerance and is not acceptable."