On Thursday, Commissioner Roger Goodell entertained the bounty-related appeals filed by the Saints, coach Sean Payton, G.M. Mickey Loomis, and assistant head coach Joe Vitt. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, a ruling on the appeals could come as early as Friday.
Goodell said last week that the appeal process — both the hearing and the decision — would be expedited.
Still, issuing a decision on Friday would serve only to bolster the perception that the in-house appeal process is futile (regardless of whether it really is futile). For that reason, it would be somewhat surprising to see the decisions come down today.
That said, the fact that the Gregg Williams audio has nudged deep into the background the important philosophical questions regarding the league’s use of its immense power to insulate itself from outside scrutiny in cases of this nature could make the league less concerned about the fact that a Friday decision will bolster the appearance that the appeal process is a rubber stamp for the original decision made by the Commissioner. Moreover, the looming Easter weekend (complete with a major annual four-day sporting event that will grab most of the headlines) could make a late-afternoon announcement from the league office a wise P.R. move.
Regardless, it would be a surprise if any of the penalties are diminished, especially in light of the Williams audio. When a company handles its quasi-judicial processes in-house, P.R. necessarily becomes a significant part of the process. In this case, no one outside of Louisiana will bat an eye if/when the Commissioner decides that he made the right decision in the first place.