NEW YORK – The appeals have been heard. Now it's up to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to decide whether he will reduce any of the penalties in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
Saints coach Sean Payton left NFL headquarters on Thursday after meeting with Goodell to discuss the season-long suspension he received for his role in the bounty system. Payton left without comment.
Earlier, the commissioner heard appeals from general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant coach Joe Vitt.
Vitt and his lawyer, David Cornwell, met with Goodell for 90 minutes. Cornwell said Vitt understood he had to be held accountable, but they wanted to convey that the coach did not participate in a strategy to injure players.
"I thought the commissioner was extremely receptive," Cornwell said.
Goodell suspended Payton for all of next season, while Loomis was suspended for eight games and Vitt for six. The Saints were fined $500,000 and docked two second-round draft picks.
Asked if he thought his punishment would be reduced, Vitt said: "I have no feel for that."
"The commissioner's got a tough job," he added. "I've worked hard to earn the respect of my players and now I want to earn his respect."
The former New Orleans defensive coordinator at the center of the bounties case, Gregg Williams, was suspended indefinitely and did not appeal. Williams was hired by the St. Louis Rams on Jan. 23 as their defensive coordinator.
NFL investigators concluded that from 2009-11 the Saints offered improper cash bonuses for big hits that either knocked opponents out of games or left them needing help off the field.
The appeals came on a day when a documentary maker released what he said was an audio recording of Williams speaking before the Saints' playoff loss to the 49ers. In a speech filled with profanities, Williams tells his defense to go after specific San Francisco players.