Sean Payton, the Saints head coach who’s suspended for the season because of the team’s bounty program, says the most difficult thing he’s gone through is hearing himself portrayed in a way that he says is inaccurate.
In a wide-ranging interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Payton said he has stayed relatively quiet because he thinks that’s the right approach to his time off, but that hasn’t been easy because there have been times he wanted to speak up.
“Listen, it’s hard to do,” Payton said. “And we’re in a much different position than the players, in regards to players having a union. I think ultimately our goal is to get reinstated at the right time. Yeah, it’s frustrating at times to sit back and hear a lot of things that have been painted in a certain way that you know aren’t true. But that being said, I support every one of those guys and pay close attention to what’s going on with Jon and the rest of those players and Mickey [Loomis] and Joe [Vitt] and everyone.”
Payton didn’t explain exactly what he has heard that he knows isn’t true, and it’s been widely reported that part of the reason Payton’s punishment was so severe is exactly because he didn’t speak up and explain to the league office exactly what was happening when the NFL first began investigating the Saints’ bounty program. But Payton says that’s incorrect.
“No. We tried to do everything possible to show as much as cooperation as possible,” Payton said.
Payton also said he has no hope of being reinstated before his suspension is scheduled to end, after the Super Bowl.
“No, that’s nothing that I’m aware of or that I’m anticipating,” Payton said of early reinstatement.
So Payton will sit out the entire season, watching the Saints on TV and coaching only as the offensive coordinator for his sixth-grade son’s youth team.