Saints coach Sean Payton publicly answered questions for the first time since he was suspended for the entire 2012 season on Tuesday, telling reporters at the league meeting that during his two visits to the league office as part of the NFL’s bounty investigation, he told the truth.
“In the two trips to New York I made sure to do everything in my power to answer the questions honestly,” Payton said.
That would seem to contradict what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said about being lied to during the investigation, and that the lying continued into the past several weeks. However, in specifying that he tried to be honest during his two trips to New York, Payton may have been splitting hairs: Answering every question honestly while he visited the league office doesn’t preclude withholding some information in visits to the league office, or lying during questioning that took place outside the league office.
Other comments Payton made include:
– Payton says he’s “100 percent certain” he’ll be the Saints’ head coach in 2013.
– Asked if the bounty system implemented by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was the kind of thing Payton was hoping for when he hired Williams to instill toughness in his defense, Payton answered, “Obviously not.”
– Payton said he has had no contact with Williams over the last few weeks.
– Payton said he has been touched by the outpouring of support he has received. “Our fans back in New Orleans have been amazing,” Payton said. “My peers, guys that I’m close with in this league, the players on our team, it’s like a family. That’s the thing that gets you through something like this.”
– Payton said that to his knowledge, no opponents the Saints put a bounty on were seriously injured.
– Asked if he might work on television this year, Payton said he’s keeping all his options open.
– Bill Parcells has been helpful to Payton, but Payton doesn’t know if Parcells will step in as interim head coach this year. “I’ve really called him just as a mentor, someone to shoot ideas off of,” Payton said. “I speak to him pretty regularly, in regards to advice. . . . The specifics in regard to him coaching, and I’ve read the reports, that would be something that [General Manager Mickey Loomis] and I, and our owner, and Bill would deal with at a later time. Right now it’s really been as an advisor.”