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Goodell: Saints appeals to be heard by end of week

By Ralph D. Russo

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 3 2012 12:00 p.m. MDT

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell smiles during a presentation in New York, Tuesday, April 3, 2012. The league and Nike showed off the new look in grand style with a gridiron-styled fashion show at a Brooklyn film studio.

Seth Wenig, Associated Press

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NEW YORK — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says Saints coach Sean Payton and other New Orleans officials suspended for being involved in the team's bounty program will have their appeals heard in the next few days.

"I expect we'll do it before the end of the week," he said Tuesday at the unveiling of the league's new Nike-designed uniforms at a film studio in Brooklyn.

Payton, New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant coach Joe Vitt were suspended for their roles in the team's bounty system, which offered improper cash bonuses for big hits that either knocked opponents out of games or left them needing help off of the field.

Payton was suspended for the upcoming season. Loomis received an eight-game suspension, and Vitt was suspended for six games.

The Saints organization was fined $500,000 and had second-round draft picks this year and next taken away by the league as part of the punishment.

Next to be determined is whether players who were involved in the bounty program will also be disciplined.

Goodell says the NFL met with the Players Association and executive director DeMaurice Smith on Monday to discuss the league's investigation of the Saints.

"We shared more information with them so they're up to speed," he said.

Goodell added that he expected to speak with Smith again as soon as Wednesday.

"I hope to be able to make some decisions soon," Goodell said.

"I believe in getting as much information as possible," he said. "We respect the players. This is important because it's a player safety matter. We think that we need to get some input from them."

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