In his reddit AMA with Saints fans, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was asked whether there was any chance the Saints would get their second round pick back. To date, he had not answered this question publicly. His answer?
"No, the penalty will continue to include the 2nd round draft choice in 2013."
This was news to Saints fans because after the Saints and the coaches appealed the penalty, the NFL released the following statement rejecting the appeal (from April 2012) that suggested that the pick might not be forfeited if the team cooperated with the NFL:
"The club and individuals will be expected to cooperate in any further proceedings and to assist in the development and implementation of programs to instruct players and coaches at all levels on principles of player safety, fair play, and sportsmanship.
"If they embrace the opportunity and participate in a constructive way, commissioner Goodell said he would consider mitigating the financial penalties on the individuals. In the case of the team, the commissioner would consider whether there are factors that would support modifying the forfeiture of the team's 2013 second-round draft choice."
The New Orleans media at the time also emphasized this point as illustrated in a Jeff Duncan, NOLA.com article:
"If so, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has dangled a couple of carrots for them as post-suspension rewards.
First, if the Saints cooperate with the NFL and "assist in the development and implementation of programs to instruct players and coaches at all levels on principles of player safety, fair play, and sportsmanship" the league will consider "modifying" the forfeiture of their 2013 second-round draft pick.
In other words, if the Saints keep their noses clean and work with the league on some of their player-safety programs they could get their second-round pick back next season. That's big."
Psyche! Nothing like Roger Goodell starting up New Orleans Super Bowl week with that sort of news for Saints fans.
In Goodell's original findings, he noted that Saints owner Tom Benson did not endorse the bounties and has been cooperative with the investigation. Certainly, Saints fans are completely blameless. They deserve to have the following questions answered (some of this was asked about in the reddit but not answered):
1. Did Roger Goodell do a determination of whether the Saints had cooperated enough to support modifying the forfeiture of the team's 2013 second-round draft choice? If so, how did the Saints organization or individuals fail in their obligations to the league?
2. Did Goodell even remember the potential of the modification of the forfeiture of the pick?
3. Did Goodell inform the Saints already that they would not get the pick back before he made that news public in a fan reddit AMA?
Though I am going to the Super Bowl, I am not going as working media. I will not have the opportunity to ask these questions. But I hope some of the folks who do find out these answers. I'm not a Saints fan, but I know how valuable a second round pick can be to a team with a lot of needs. It seems to me that the punishment that the Saints organization and their fans have already received has been severe enough.