Upon further review, Roger Goodell's original ruling stands. For the most part.
The NFL commissioner on Monday upheld his lengthy suspensions in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
Head coach Sean Payton will sit out the entire 2012 season without pay, although Goodell now is giving him until next Monday to get the Saints' coaching house in order before the banishment begins. After that, Payton will not be allowed to have any meaningful contact with the club, its coaches or its players until after the Super Bowl next February.
General manager Mickey Loomis' eight-game suspension without pay begins at the end of the pre-season, which is in early September. Same goes for assistant coach Joe Vitt's six-game suspension without pay.
Gregg Williams, the Saints' defensive co-ordinator from 2009-11, did not appeal his indefinite suspension -- the harshest punishment. It was Williams who ran and even contributed cash to the three-year bounty program. Saints defenders were motivated by illegal cash payments not only for exceptional plays, but for targeting and injuring key opposing players.
In 2009 the club denied to the NFL that the bounty program existed, yet the bounties continued unabated right up to New Orleans' NFC championship game loss at San Francisco in January.
Goodell dispensed the original punishments on March 21. Payton, Loomis and Vitt appealed, and Goodell heard their cases last Thursday.
The commissioner additionally had fined the club $500,000, another decision he upheld Monday, and he also took away the Saints' 2012 and 2013 second-round draft picks.
In its news release on Monday, however, the league said some of the punishments could be lessened.
"The team and the individuals will be expected to cooperate in any further proceedings, and to assist in the development and implementation of programs to instruct players and coaches at all levels on principles of player safety, fair play, and sportsmanship," the release said.
"If they embrace the opportunity and participate in a constructive way, commissioner Goodell said he would consider mitigating the financial penalties on the individuals. In the case of the team, the commissioner would consider whether there are factors that would support modifying the forfeiture of the team's 2013 second-round draft choice."
Payton now has six days to name an interim head coach. Reports have suggested Bill Parcells, one of Payton's coaching mentors and a good friend, probably would come out of retirement to fill that role should the club ask him to.
The Saints still need to know which players will be suspended for their roles in the bounty scandal, and for how long, because it will almost certainly affect what remaining available free agents the club might go after, or what holes they might want to fill in next month's draft.
"Yeah, I'm sensitive to that," Goodell said two weeks ago at the NFL's annual meeting.
The commissioner has said he wants the NFL players association to recommend which players should be suspended, and for how long. But so far the union has been unwilling to play judge and jury with the very players it represents and advocates for.
Goodell said whatever player suspensions he ultimately hands down won't be as harsh as those he slapped on the Saints coaches and GM.