New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton will be barred from contact with anyone in the National Football League as he serves his one-year suspension for trying to cover up a program the league says that paid players bonuses for injuring opponents, according to ESPN.
Should Payton speak with members of the Saints organization or any of the league’s other 31 teams, he must report it to Ray Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, ESPN reported today, citing an unidentified person familiar with the suspension. The 48-year-old coach’s ban began yesterday and will run until the day after the Super Bowl in February 2013.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed down the stiffest punishment ever imposed on an NFL team and its leadership on March 21 after he said Payton lied to the NFL about the program. The punishment also included a $500,000 fine on the Saints, the loss of two draft picks, a half-season suspension for General Manager Mickey Loomis and a six-game ban for assistant Joe Vitt.
The league said at the time of the ruling that it discovered a program in which Saints players were paid bonuses from 2009 through 2011 for various on-field accomplishments, including forced turnovers and injuring opponents. All such payments violate NFL rules on non-contract bonuses.
Loomis, Payton and Vitt, who was named the team’s interim coach in Payton’s absence, unsuccessfully appealed their suspensions this month. Potential punishment for the roughly two dozen players the league says were involved in the program has yet to be announced.
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