Payton will be in less of a playful mood Tuesday when he joins GM Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt in New York to argue their appeal of penalties levied for the Bountygate scandal before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The interesting question is what does Payton and the rest of the accused hope to gain? On the face of it, the appeal, put into football vernacular, is like throwing into triple coverage. With Billy Joe Tolliver throwing, and the 1979 Steelers secondary defending. When the prosecutor, the judge and the jury is embodied in the office of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, any appeal to the appellate judge, who also is Goodell, appears on the face to be an exercise in futility. Goodell is not going to relent on penalties handed out for offenses to the No. 1 issue on his plate, player safety. As we wrote earlier this week, Goodell has no choice but to take a hard line that he can use to mitigate any future legal challenge by former players with lifetime injuries.
Is there something we mortals are missing? Maybe the true intention is to buy time. Payton needs more time with his staff because they need to accelerate their draft preparations by almost a month. The draft will be over three days, April 26-28, and the closer Payton can push his banishment past the initial April 1 date would be valuable time spent on personnel that could be a year older and contributing when he returns. Forget that the Saints' top pick is a third-rounder, the organization has prided itself in mid-round steals, and that attitude is probably more important now.
A delay of his suspension also would give Payton more time to talk his mentor Bill Parcells into warming his seat during the year of his absence. Payton would be comfortable with Parcells in an interim role, because the way Payton operates his team is the same way Parcells taught him when he was a Tuna assistant. Having Parcells aboard also would reduce the possibility that one of his assistants would take over and become even more attractive as a potential head coach elsewhere. Payton is a calculating individual, never without a reason for his actions.
Jim Finks always said that any action was shrouded in "good reasons," but motivated by "real reasons." If you doubt, as do I, that the accused possess any evidence that would mitigate the penalties, then you can bet the real reason is intended to make Payton's 2013 return to the team seamless.
by Jim Miller