Goodell stands behind bounty punishment

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Roger Goodell will cross paths with the New Orleans Saints in Canton this weekend, where the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies take place Saturday before the Saints-Cardinals preseason opener Sunday.

At present, Goodell said there was no plan on his itinerary to meet with the Saints but he's more than willing to change his schedule if the Saints request a sitdown.

"Our schedule is pretty full here right now and I'm not sure when the team's coming in," Goodell said on NFL Network from the Hall of Fame Friday morning. "But I certainly would welcome any opportunity to engage with them. That's certainly something I would encourage and that's something we would always do."

Goodell said he followed the facts in the bounty investigation, sorting through 18,000 documents that showed a pay-for-performance program. He said recent documents released in Louisiana court, where linebacker Jonathan Vilma is attempting to have his one-year suspension overturned with a ruling expected Aug. 10, backed up his decision to suspend four players, head coach Sean Payton, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and general manager Mickey Loomis.

"As I understand it, even in court last week, there was an acknowledgement that there's a pay-for-performance system in place over the last couple of years and that it paid for players to be carted off the field. That's a bounty program," Goodell said.

On Monday, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, also a member of the NFLPA executive board, said players generally don't trust Goodell. The commissioner said he respectfully appreciates Brees' opinion but believes he acted appropriately in the case after players of interest were silent when offered the chance to defend themselves.

"We believe that the facts are clear that this issue was ongoing in the bounty case with the Saints and that we responded appropriately," Goodell added. "Because that's protecting all our players. ... We will protect not only the players, but the game. And that's our No. 1 objective and we'll continue to do that."

-- The Sports Xchange