If former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue makes a significant reduction in the suspensions current Commissioner Roger Goodell has imposed on the players involved in the bounty brouhaha, things could get (even more) interesting.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that Saints owner Tom Benson will ask Goodell to reconsider the one-year suspension of coach Sean Payton, if the player suspensions are scuttled or reduced by Tagliabue.
In our view, it’s apples and oranges. The players are protected by a Collective Bargaining Agreement; the coaches aren’t. Also, the discipline against the coaches includes punishment for lying when the league first looked into the situation in 2010, and for continuing the pay-for-performance/bounty system after the NFL made it clear that the practice should stop.
That said, there continue to be rumors that Goodell will at some point lift Payton’s suspension for the balance of the year. There’s no specific factual basis for those rumors, yet. A reduction in the player suspensions could provide cover for an olive branch to Payton and, in turn, the entire population of New Orleans, where Goodell will be spending most of the week before the Super Bowl.