While the evaluations of players continue to be the focal point, the biggest news dominating the Senior Bowl on Wednesday came from the New Orleans Saints. All media members turned their attention after Wednesday’s morning practice session to listen to Saints’ coach Sean Payton. The NFL commissioner announced his reinstatement from the bounty scandal on Tuesday, after meeting with Payton for about four hours.
After the North squad (coached by the Oakland Raiders) finished their morning practice session, 50 plus members of the media gathered on the sideline while Coach Payton worked his way into position and addressed the media.
When he was asked about “Bountygate,” Payton said, “I think turning the page is very important. It’s no different than what we teach our players when you feel like maybe a ball doesn’t go your way. In other words, you go on to the next play. And this is a much bigger scheme of things, (but) it had to be the same approach, I think, by me. We’re at a point where it’s time for closure. It’s time for us as a team, it’s time for us as a league to take this next step forward”.
The North squad, who was walking off the field after they talked with scouts, viewed the commotion and suddenly found themselves getting a quick dose of the reality within the NFL, and witnessing a lifelong lesson.
“We had a very productive discussion,” said Commissioner Goodell. “Sean fully complied with all the requirements imposed on him during his suspension. More important, it is clear that Sean understands and accepts his responsibilities as a head coach and the vital role that coaches play in promoting player safety and setting an example for how the game should be played at all levels. We are committed to delivering football that fans love and the safety players deserve. Coach Payton agrees and I look forward to working with him going forward to do that.”
Coach Payton was accompanied by Saints’ coach Joe Vitt, general manger Mickey Loomis and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and other members of the coaching staff. Per a source, coach went on to say the challenges of rebuilding after a losing season will be painful and that his return won’t guarantee an immediate return to the Saints winning ways.