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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has denied the Saints' appeal, leaving intact his initial punishment for the team's bounty program. The move comes as no surprise to individuals who read Goodell's original statement regarding the pay-for-pain scheme.
He called the team's actions "particularly unusual and egregious" and expressed concern about the intentional injuries and the team's "willful disrespect of the rules."
With these words, Goodell left little doubt that he is very serious about head coach Sean Payton's 1-year suspension.
Still, the NFL's decision to deny the Saints' appeal does not come without a glimmer of hope. Suspensions for Mickey Loomis (8 games) and Joe Vitt (6 games) still stand, according to The Times-Picayune. But Goodell suggested that he may be willing to lower the team's $500,000 fine and return its 2013 second-round draft pick.
However, any reductions to the Saints' punishment will depend on the players and management. They have been ordered to help develop and implement a program that will "instruct players and coaches at all levels on principles of player safety, fair play, and sportsmanship," reports Fox Sports. Goodell will be looking to see whether the team "embrace[s] the opportunity and participate in a constructive way."
At this juncture, there's not much the Saints can do other than play nicely. League rules, as long as they are enforced in an appropriate, consistent matter, are likely outside the bounds of the judicial system. The NFL, knowing this, probably ensured that it was acting properly when it denied the Saints' appeal.