Sat, Apr 07, 2012 - Page 19 News List

NFL: Saints coach Sean Payton appeals ban from ‘bounty’

AFP and Reuters, NEW YORK

New Orleans coach Sean Payton, banned for the upcoming NFL season over the Saints’ “bounty” scandal, met on Thursday with league commissioner Roger Goodell to appeal his punishment.

Goodell heard appeals from various Saints representatives for six hours on Thursday, NFL.com reported.

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the instigator of the pay-for-injury program that ran from 2009 through last year, was subsequently hired as defensive coordinator for the St Louis Rams. He was suspended indefinitely and has not appealed his punishment.

Williams has confessed to running the bounty scheme and apologized for what he claimed a “terrible mistake.”

However, Goodell also suspended head coach Payton for all of the next season for his role. The Saints organization were fined US$500,000 and docked two second-round draft picks.

Meanwhile, Williams could be heard instructing players to hurt opponents, according to audio released on Thursday.

Williams can be heard on the recording, taken by documentary filmmaker Sean Pamphilon last season while working on a project, instructing his players to injure members of the San Francisco 49ers ahead of their playoff game in January.

San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith and running back Frank Gore are among the players Williams mentions during a speech before the Saints lost to the 49ers in the divisional playoffs.

“We hit [expletive] Smith right there” Williams is heard saying, according to a report on Yahoo that said the banned coach also pointed under his chin.

Williams also reportedly rubbed his thumb against his index and middle fingers — the money sign — and said: “I got the first one. Go get it. Go lay that [expletive] out,” Yahoo reported.

“Kill the head, the body will die,” Williams is heard saying in another segment of the audio. “We’ve to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head.”

Pamphilon, who had special access to the Saints last season while working on a documentary, did not believe any players were actually injured as a result of the speech.

“I was 2 feet [0.6m] behind the Saints’ bench,” he told Yahoo. “And it looked like they were trying to kill each other every play, but I’ve watched about 15 NFL games from the sidelines and I didn’t see anything different in that game than I’ve seen in any other football game.”

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