New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton met with reporters for the first time in a very long time Wednesday in Mobile, Alabama where the Senior Bowl is being held. Payton once again addressed reporters as head coach of the Saint after serving 281 days of suspension given to him for his role in the NFL’s bounty investigation.
The Saints head coach was asked if there was a bounty program in place and Payton said that he would not discuss any specifics of what he and the commissioner talked about back on Monday. Saints players and coaches like Joe Vitt has repeated said that there was no pay to injury program.
Regardless of what took place, the NFL warned the Saints several times and Payton admits things could have been handled differently. “Look we’re in the business of teaching. We ask our players all the time let’s not repeat, let’s learn from our mistakes,” Payton said. “There’s certain things that as you have a chance to look back on it that I would want to do differently and want to handle differently. The challenges of managing a staff and understanding how important that is and I won’t go into all the specifics but absolutely.”
The season long plus suspension was tough on Payton who spoke about missing the personal relationships he had with players and coaches. He also missed game days and the element that brings. “You miss that competition that element of what it feels like when you’re winning and when you have success and the butterflies on Sunday morning,” Payton recalled.
TIME TO MOVE ON
“I think we’re at a point and I think you guys would all agree we’re at a point where it’s time for closure,” said Saints head coach Sean Payton. “It’s time for us as a team it’s time for us as a league to take this next step forward.”
Payton also made it a point on Wednesday to remind fans that hosting the Super Bowl is an honor and that ill feelings from the bounty situation and frustrations from the 2012 season shouldn’t affect how visitors are treated, mainly Roger Goodell.
So how should New Orleans behave next week with public enemy number one to many fans will be in town?
“I think it should be the same way our city has hosted the previous nine. I think it should be outstanding. Gracious. I think that’s our responsibility,” Payton says. “We’re still the number one destination for this game. We’re not getting in town cars and driving 45 minutes to some venue. You’re right down the street from the finest hotels, the finest restaurants and the hospitality in our city is open to everyone. So that would be my answer, especially our commissioner.”
New Orleans is known for being able to throw a big party and do it right. It’s those traits that the coach believes will come through when the spotlights on the city get turned on and he doesn’t fear that resentment towards the NFL will outshine what the city does best.
“I think they will,” Payton said when asked again if the city will look past this past season’s activities. “Here’s the one thing this city does better than any. They know how to entertain and feed you and there is no better city in the world to host a Super Bowl. I think they’ll do a great job with that. The most important element here is closure and us moving forward. It’s back to what commissioner Goodell and I visited with and this closure, this next step is I think important. We got so many other challenges that I think all of us in our personal lives and out professional lives, you know move one. Like I said earlier we’ve got a lot.”
NEED TO IMPROVE
Saints fans are happy no doubt that Payton is back but there is a lot of work to do as the head coach said players, the staff then contracts are the order of priorities for him now that he is back. ‘We’ve got a ton of challenges right now. A ton of work,” Payton said of the immediate days to come for his team. “We’ve got a lot of tough meetings coming ahead and that’s just it is what is and that’s what 7-9 so those are big challenges.”
It’s been reported that Payton had several notepads of notes on what he saw and what he saw didn’t please him. “When you play the way we played defensively it’s going to be hard to win,” Payton noted.
“When you struggle running the football like we did the first half of the season it’s going to be hard to win. We struggled at times in special teams. These things that keep you from winning games are consistent. Whether one individual is in the building or out of the building hey, someone that I spoke to quite a bit during this team coach (Bill) Parcells said to me, hey you gotta make sure that this mindset that you’re back and all of a sudden you’re back to winning 11-12- 13 games next year doesn’t exist because you very well can win five next year. Listen he’s right. We’ve got a lot of things we got to correct to get where we when to go and that’s just the truth. There’s a lot that goes into winning and a lot that goes into losing.”