Why Sean Payton Has to Appeal
There has been groveling of late from the NFL community and fans that Sean Payton has no right to appeal his year-long suspension, and that it is in fact immoral that he does so. That stance is skewed. Sean Payton is still a football coach who has put in six years of hard work into developing a Super Bowl caliber team and a city that had nothing but the New Orleans Saints to look towards in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He will not go down easily.
This appeal is not Sean Payton saying, “I think the bounty program is being looked at too harshly.” He is appealing because he wants to delay the punishment that will keep him from entering the doors of Saints facilities. He wants to prepare his staff for a season where the team has a legitimate chance at a Super Bowl. He wants to have a voice in his replacement. He wants his players to know that he cares about the future of the Saints whether he is present or not. He wants the best for his team. Who wouldn’t?
Payton knows that the suspension is not going to be lowered. After all, the bounty program encompasses the NFL’s two main issues: integrity of the league brand and player safety. Likewise, Commissioner Goodell simply cannot lower the suspension. The juice simply isn’t worth the squeeze (just ask Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa). The Payton suspension as well as the other subsequent suspensions, will act as precedent for the rest of the league to send the message that directly targeting player injuries, or even knowing about it, is not okay and that you will suffer if you are involved.
Sean Payton is the pseudo Joe Paterno, involved in a major scandal dating back years and was just a bit too hesitant to be the bad guy for his team and in turn ended up becoming a villain of sorts, anyway. But nobody blames Sean and nobody blames Joe, because they are character guys and their names aren’t Gregg Williams or Jerry Sandusky. They didn’t touch children inappropriately or put up $10,000 for Kurt Warner’s head. In a world of increased transparency, honesty and doing the right thing actually do pay off. Crazy concept.
Although both scandals were known for a long time within the Penn State and Saints locker rooms, the impact of poor decision-making could only be digested in a short period of time once news became public.
The point I’m getting at is that Paterno has nothing to offer his team today. Sean Payton does, but only because he is appealing. So, this appeal is coming from both Payton’s heart and his head, trying to do everything he possibly can to ensure what he has built thus far can last through his absence.