The Saints coach has decided to file an appeal on Friday with the league on his season-long suspension for his involvement in New Orleans' bounty system, a person familiar with the decision said.
The appeal will also ask NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his guidance on the parameters of the suspension, the person told The Associated Press Friday on condition of anonymity because the league and the Saints have not announced Payton's plan to appeal.
Goodell last week announced the suspension of Payton, starting Sunday, for his role in connection with New Orleans' 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.
The commissioner has since said the Saints' coach would be allowed to continue working if he appealed, while the process played out. However, he added that the appeal would be expedited, indicating that Payton would not likely be able to add on much work time should his appeal be upheld.
Goodell also said at NFL meetings this week in Florida that Payton could have some contact with the team but did not go into detail, and Payton indicated that he was still a little unclear about that as well.
With all the uncertainty, Payton is trying to compress as much planning for the 2012 season into whatever time he has left at Saints headquarters this weekend.
The NFL could not immediately provide details on how Payton's decision to file an appeal on Friday would affect the timeline for the process to play out.
"The decision to appeal is for Sean Payton to make and announce as he deems appropriate," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "If there are appeals, the commissioner will arrange for expedited hearings, as he stated at the league meeting."
The results of the appeal could affect whether Bill Parcells comes out of retirement to take over as interim coach while his former offensive assistant and protégé is suspended.
Parcells has said he would consider coaching the Saints if asked. At a spring training game in Jupiter, Fla., on Friday, Parcells declined to answer questions about the possibility.
"I know better than that," Parcells said.
Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis played golf with Parcells this week to talk to him about the team's predicament, and Parcells has told multiple media outlets that he would consider taking the Saints interim post to help his friend.
If the suspension is reduced, however, the Saints could decide it makes more sense to promote an assistant from the current staff.
There are also three strong candidates among Saints assistants to take over as interim coach: offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. Payton expressed confidence in the abilities of his own assistants to compensate for his absence, but also has voiced some misgivings about saddling those coaches with additional responsibilities.
Since his suspension was announced, Payton has been putting in long hours with his staff and that of general manager Mickey Loomis as they try to lay out plans for the 2012 draft and season.
Loomis will be able to oversee the draft and handle other roster moves up until the season starts. Then he is slated to serve his eight-game suspension for failing to put a stop to the bounty system in a timely way. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who also coaches linebackers, is facing a six-game suspension.
Payton said earlier this week that he had already laid out plans for the offseason training program and the beginning of training camp, up until the Saints play Arizona in the Hall of Fame game Aug. 5 in Canton, Ohio.
The NFL's investigation in New Orleans found that Payton initially lied to league investigators about the existence of a bounty and instructed his defensive assistants to do the same.
Payton twice apologized for his role in the bounty program, saying he takes "full responsibility" for a system that operated for three years under his watch.
The NFL has said as many as 27 players also could be sanctioned for their role in the scandal, but it is not yet clear when that might happen, creating additional uncertainty for New Orleans and some teams that have signed former Saints defensive regulars as they tried to build their 2012 rosters.
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