New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has said very little publicly since beginning his season-long suspension in April for his part in the bounty scandal.
But in an extensive interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune's Mike Triplett, Payton noted he has watched the Saints' preseason games and taken notes on the games.
Payton is running the offense for his son's sixth-grade football team in the Dallas area. The Liberty Christian Warriors 1-0 start after a 30-0 victory on Saturday.
Here are excerpts from the Times-Picayune interview:
--- On what the time away has been like: "I think probably a lot of what I expected. I have a chance now from afar to really study the game. Of course, I'm following the Saints real closely with the TV copy and the coaches tape and all those other things. But there are still days where obviously you miss it, because this is what you've done for so long. But really overall, looking from afar, the preseason seems to have gone well. Everyone has really come together.
"There was only one I didn't watch live because we had a football practice, on the Thursday night against Tennessee. But, yeah, whether I'm in Dallas or in New Orleans I'm going to watch games live and then go back and get a copy and watch again. ..."
--- On whether he'll be working on television or anything similar in the fall: "No. The challenge is, because of the football schedule of my son's team, I really didn't want to find myself trying to travel around that. We play on Saturdays, practice Tuesdays and Thursdays. I talked with one network about working around that, but ultimately I decided I'd rather not. I don't want to take off on Saturdays an hour after we play. I'd rather spend my time and focus there, and on how the Saints are doing on Sundays. ...
"Absolutely (the best thing about the suspension) is the time it's allowed me to spend with the children. One of the things about what we do, so many times you're missing things, getting pictures of things we miss, phone calls of what you missed."
--- On his role on the team on which his son, Connor, plays: "I run the offense . . . We have 12 plays on the wristband. The terminology is the same as we used in New Orleans. The kids said, 'This looks hard.' But I said, 'I've seen your homework. That's a lot harder.' And they've done a great job with it."
--- On why he's stayed quiet regarding the bounty allegations and penalties and whether that has been difficult: "Listen, it's hard to do. And we're in a much different position than the players, in regards to players having a union. I think ultimately our goal is to get reinstated at the right time. Yeah, it's frustrating at times to sit back and hear a lot of things that have been painted in a certain way that you know aren't true. But that being said, I support every one of those guys and pay close attention to what's going on with Jon (Vilma) and the rest of those players and Mickey (Loomis) and Joe (Vitt) and everyone."
--- On what he feels he did wrong: "When you're the head coach, you've got to pay attention to all areas of your football team. I'm going to leave it just at that. . . . There's a lot that went into this, and I think fortunately there's a lot more that's come out after the fact and I think will continue to surface."
--- On what the NFL got wrong in its allegations or penalties: "I'd rather not get into it specifically, because we could elaborate for an hour. I think it's better to just leave it at that. There's a lot at stake still for guys like Jon Vilma. They're working hard to get the correct ruling. ... But I think the timing (when the allegations first surfaced in March) and all of a sudden the chain of events and when they happened and when we first were in New York (visiting with league officials), I think that caught myself and all of us off guard for how quickly that all happened."
--- On how much he'll be missed with the Saints: "I think the stability aspect of the program is so strong. There's so many players and coaches that are there now that have been involved since '06. I think it'd be much more difficult if this was early in our tenure here. But I've seen where we're the only team with the same ownership, GM, coach and quarterback all have been the same since '06. And all that lends to that stability and allows you to handle challenges."
--- On whether he would take it personally if the Saints go 15-1 and win the Super Bowl without him: "No, I'm going to be on the edge of my chair rooting for them every game. This is our team. Not any individual. A group of people have worked very hard together to have success. We've always preached about eliminating the 'I's' and 'mes' and creating a team element to the sport. Coaches, offensive line, defensive line, the whole building. Everyone's got a part in it. Collectively we've been able to have a lot of success, and a lot of people have worked hard to make that happen."