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Sean Payton 'Humbled' By WhoDats, Ready to Tackle Saints' Challenges

by Sarah Esenwein

For the 2012 season, he was only a likeness admonishing the Saints players to "Do Your Job." But, much like a father returning to children or a teacher to the classroom, Black and Gold Head Coach Sean Payton is back with his team after a year-long suspension. During a press conference Wednesday, Payton recalled sentiments of sadness over being deprived of the personal contact and connections with the Saints players and staff on a daily basis. 


“The hardest part was not having personal interaction, not the football,” he said.


During his banishment from the team as a result of Bountygate, Payton said he tried to establish a new routine, and tried other activities like coaching his son’s football team. His time away from his team was "tempered with emotions" and he struggled early on with the frustrations of watching from afar.  


While watching games, he said he had difficulties with situations that he would have handled differently, but had complete trust and faith in his coaching staff and appreciates their handling of the challenges they faced.


Payton and the Saints inked a five-year contract extension with the Saints before the New Year, and the deal was already approved by the league. That means he can hit the ground running.


Assuming his spot back at the helm of the organization today, Payton is already looking forward. The team faces challenges after a disappointing 7-9 season, and they will be met head on in an afternoon meeting today. Coach Payton did admit that the problems with defense kept him up at night, but all areas of the team, from the passing game to special teams, will be worked on. Payton made a point of saying that wins and losses are of universal accountability and he has "lots of yellow note pads with a lot of stuff written on them" to go through.  


He was quite candid in saying that there were a ton of challenges and that meetings will be "painful." He wouldn’t elaborate on any changes that will be made to the team or faculty, but free agency and the upcoming NFL draft are in his focus.


Primarily, Payton said he would like to focus on the players and the corrections that need to be made.  Ultimately, he is just as happy as we all are to be back to what he dubbed as the "best job with the best team." 


When asked about the rumors that started about him jumping ship from New Orlerans, Payton was unequivocal.


 “There was and is no way” he was going to another team, he said.


Payton  attributes his loyalty to the fantastic and highly respectful relationship between himself, Saints GM Mickey Loomis and owner, Tom Benson.  He said he was "forever grateful and humbled" by the WhoDats, and thanks the Saints fans for standing by him.


The only real disappointment he shared was that our team was not in the Super Bowl.  However, there was “No better city in the world” to host football’s world championship.  He expressed no ill-will toward Commissioner Roger Goodell, on the contrary, describing their relationship as “very good," and said that after their Monday meeting he was confident that the commissioner would be comfortable allowing the early reinstatement.


The early reinstatement is quite important as the Saints look to rebuild and work to restore the level of play they worked so tirelessly to achieve, and Payton has a clear vision to accomplish what he knows the Saints organization is capable of.  He is not looking to dwell of the circumstances of last year.  


“We as a team and a league are at a point of closure and it’s time to move forward," Payton said.


The Saints may have momentarily fallen, but with their Head Coach back on in the fold, they are most certainly not dead.


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