NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell won't get in the way if Bill Parcells ultimately agrees to step in as the head coach of the Saints in 2012.
Sean Payton is appealing his one-year suspension as part of Goodell's punishment for the Saints' "bounty" program, and has spoken to his mentor Parcells about filling in on an interim basis. In Goodell's view, team owner Tom Benson has the final say on who the head coach is, as long as the Saints follow the proper protocol.
"At the end of the day, these are management decisions that Tom Benson has to sign off on. He'll get recommendations, from Sean and (general manager) Mickey (Loomis), I'm sure, and others, and make his determination," Goodell said at the opening of a pop-up store in New York featuring new team apparel, per NFL.com. "If it ends up being Parcells, and they've gone through the full process, that's their decision. They need to make those decisions."
That process includes interviewing a minority candidate to fulfill the Rooney Rule if they bring in a coach from outside the organization, Goodell said last week.
Parcells, Payton and Loomis played golf while at the owners meetings in Florida last week, and the 70-year-old Parcells is believed to be seriously considering coming out of coaching retirement to help Payton.
"Bill's a great coach, and he will add a lot of personality and intrigue, and he's as competitive as they get," said Goodell. "I'm sure he'll do a great job."
Meanwhile, officials from the NFL and NFLPA met in New York to discuss potential penalties for players who participated in the bounty program.
NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has called for the league to share more information regarding evidence that players helped run the bounty program, leading to Monday's meeting. The NFLPA contingent included general counsel Richard Berthlesen, while the NFL side included vice president of law and labor policy Adolpho Birch and director of security Jeff Miller, according to the NFL Network.
"Our duty is to view and understand the evidence and to ensure it is substantiated and concrete," Smith said in a statement released before the meeting Monday. "We also have an obligation to ensure that our players have fair due process. It is not our duty to give recommendations for discipline in a vacuum without information or without consultation with our players. It seems as if this entire matter has played out primarily in public, with regard for the fairness of the process an afterthought."
The league's investigation said 22 to 27 players participated in the program, but players have not yet been suspended. Goodell has said he wants to receive input from Smith on the discipline.
The NFL is also expected to meet with Payton and Loomis regarding their appeals of their suspensions. Loomis is facing a suspension for the first half of next season. Goodell is expected to hear the appeals by the end of the week.
"From our standpoint, we want to hear if there's information we're not aware of," Goodell said. "We'll take that into consideration and we'll deal with it from there.
"When rules are violated for three consecutive years and they deny it, there are going to be consequences. That's the way it works."
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