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NFL commissioner Goodell upholds Saints suspensions

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Monday that appeals of the suspensions handed down to Saints head coach Sean Payton, general manger Mickey Loomis, and assistant head coach Joe Vitt have been rejected.

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In this Jan. 7 file photo, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton yells from the sideline during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Detroit Lions in New Orleans.

Jim Hudelson/The Shreveport Times/AP

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Sean Payton now knows for certain he won't be coaching in 2012.

And the New Orleans Saints must figure out whether Bill Parcells or someone else is best suited to take over a team seeking its fourth straight trip to the playoffs.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday rejected the Saints' appeals of their unprecedented punishment stemming from the league's investigation of the club's bounty system. The program offered cash bonuses for big hits that knocked targeted opponents out of games or hurt them enough that they required help getting to the sideline.

In addition to upholding Payton's suspension, which begins next Monday and runs through the Super Bowl — in New Orleans next season — Goodell also upheld suspensions of eight games for general manager Mickey Loomis and six games for assistant head coach Joe Vitt, along with a $500,000 fine for the franchise and the loss of second-round draft picks this year and next.

Loomis, who declined comment Monday, and Vitt begin their suspensions after the preseason ends.

The Saints case represents perhaps the starkest example yet of the sea change that the NFL has undergone since medical research and media reports on the long-term damage suffered by football players through concussions began to gain attention a few years ago.

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