PALM BEACH, Fla.—Suspended New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton arrived at the annual league meeting Tuesday morning and said he is disappointed in himself for the role he played in the bounty scandal that led to his season-long suspension from the NFL.
“I think you go through a range of emotions that kind of hit you,” Payton said. “You’re disappointed in yourself that it got to this point. And then I think we’re trained as coaches to begin preparation right away. I find myself reflecting on it. You go through a lot of emotions.”
Payton stood in the lobby of the Breakers hotel and spoke to reporters for close to 18 minutes. He said he had not yet decided whether to appeal the penalty.
“We haven’t decided yet,” Payton said. “There’s kind of a checklist. There’s a lot to do here in a short period of time, as you can imagine, with the draft coming up, our specific coaching staff. So I’m trying to get through all of that very quickly and then I think by the end of this month we’ll make the decision on that.”
He said speculation that his former boss with the Dallas Cowboys, Bill Parcells, might serve as the interim head coach of the Saints is premature. Payton did not rule out Parcells as a candidate for that job but said Saints owner Tom Benson and General Manager Mickey Loomis must be involved in those deliberations.
“I think we’re a little ahead of ourselves just in regards to that,” Payton said. “Number one, I kind of speak with [Parcells] pretty regularly. I’ll have a chance to visit with him when I’m down here. But that would involve Mickey, myself, Mr. Benson. My conversations with Bill to date really have just been about the uniqueness with this situation.”
Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Payton for tolerating and helping cover up a Saints scheme that paid defensive players cash bonuses for hits that injured opponents over the past three seasons. Goodell also suspended Loomis for eight games and Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games. The Saints were fined $500,000 and stripped of a pair of second-round draft choices. Some players are expected to be punished.
Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who administered the bounty program, was suspended indefinitely. His case is to be reviewed by the league after the 2012 season.
Goodell said here Monday that Payton has until April 2 to appeal his suspension.
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