A day after Sean Payton was reinstated as the coach of the New Orleans Saints, he made the short two-hour trip to Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl.
Payton talked about his return following a one-year suspension for his role in the team’s bounty scandal. In a 45-minute press conference at Ladd Peebles Stadium following the North’s practice this morning, he was humble and gracious in his return while also clearly anxious to get to work, saying the team would be reviewing defensive issues in staff meetings starting today. He said the defense was something that would keep him up at night.
Payton’s suspension, of course, arose after defensive coordinator Gregg Williams ran a bounty system. The NFL said Payton had knowledge of it and worse did not put an end to it. Williams left after the 2011 season and Payton isn’t interested in reconnecting.
“I have no interest in talking to Gregg,” Payton said, according to NFL.com.
He also made it clear there was no way he was leaving for another team – the Dallas Cowboys – after his contract was voided by the NFL. His deal included a provision that allowed him to leave if general manager Mickey Loomis departed and the NFL did not allow that. So, Payton was technically a free-agent-to-be before re-signing.
He was involved in coaching during his time away though. He worked with his son’s youth team.
“I needed those players more than they needed me,” Payton said.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune