Sean Payton’s long-term job security was never really in serious doubt, despite his admitted guilt over BountyGate, and the resulting penalties. He led the Saints franchise to its first championship, and he’s organized a consistently elite offense that’s been in the top five in passing yards per game for the past three seasons.
He had his contract extended to the 2015 season this past fall, and even with the turmoil in New Orleans, there was little need to think anyone not named Sean Payton would be the Saints coach in 2013 once his year-long suspension ends. But Payton still put any doubt to rest during a candid session with reporters this morning at the owners meetings in Palm Beach, Florida, saying that he’s “100 percent certain” he’ll return as the Saints head coach in 2013.
There was reflection, remorse, and reasoning in Payton’s first public appearance, with the coach still taking responsibility.
From Sam Farmer:
Payton, who will lose about $7.5 million in salary as a result of the suspension, said he has gone through “a range of emotions” since being informed of the penalty.
“You’re disappointed, you’re disappointed in yourself that it got to this point, and I think we’re trained as coaches to begin preparation right away,” he said. “I find myself reflecting on it, and you go through a lot of emotions.”
Payton said he hasn’t spoken to Gregg Williams, and he hasn’t decided if he’ll appeal the suspension. He doesn’t think any player was injured specifically because of the bounties, but he still realizes it’s his responsibility to oversee the entire team.
Asked if he believes any opponents were injured as a result of the bounties, Payton said no but conceded: “Anything that happens in the framework of your team and your program, you’re responsible for and that’s a lesson I’ve learned. It’s … easy to get carried away with a certain side of the ball, more involved offensively or defensively, and that’s something I regret.”
The Bill Parcells rumors began to bounce around yesterday, with Payton’s former boss in Dallas mentioned as a possible candidate to be his interim replacement. Parcells is reportedly set to meet with Payton and Saints general manager Mickey Loomis later today, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
This morning Payton acknowledged that the two have spoken, but described their dialogue as “normal.”
“The dialog I have with him would be pretty normal, especially in this area. In fact, for me to be down here and if I didn’t call him or set up a time to see him, I’d probably get his wrath.”
“Certainly I’m biased, having worked with him. But he’s a Hall of Fame head coach. And I would also say there are some things probably set up within the framework of our program that would be exactly how he would have set things up had he been the head coach here back in ’06. So there is some carryover that way.”
That could be the most convincing selling point for Parcells. Even if his coaching itch has faded, Payton is a part of his coaching tree, and therefore Parcells has already had an influence over this Saints team before he sets foot on a field.
He hasn’t been an NFL champion in 22 years, making this the ideal opportunity for the Big Tuna to rent Payton’s spot for one year without worrying about a long-term commitment, and leave the game with one last ring.