Saints defensive tackle Tom Johnson is angry at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for suspending coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season, and unlike Drew Brees, Johnson isn’t speechless: Johnson had plenty to say.
“This is not right,” Johnson told the Sun Herald. “We knew there would be some type [of punishment], but not this. We didn’t think anything like this because of the type of man he is. He is our leader and the man we respect. It is going to be hard to move forward without Sean Payton for any amount of time, especially a year.”
Payton was reportedly bracing for a four-game suspension and was stunned when he found out he had been suspended for a year, and Johnson said the Saints’ players were stunned as well.
“Man, he got a whole year. That is hard to believe. I am shocked and no one on the team was expecting it to be so harsh,” Johnson said. “We don’t know what direction the team will be going in, but we have to rally around each other and support each other. We will make this work until he comes back.”
Johnson said he thinks that when the team gets together, they’ll be motivated to play for Payton.
“That will be a situation where the players will say what’s on the minds and hearts, I know he will be in our hearts because he is our leader,” Johnson said. “He is the one who motivates us before games and the one who supports us in the highs and the lows. He is the ‘it’ factor for this team.”
But Payton won’t be the “it” factor for the Saints again until 2013.