The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

January 23, 2013

Saints' Sean Payton returns to work at Senior Bowl

(Continued)

The NFL suspended Payton, Vitt, Loomis and four current or former Saints players, including linebacker Jonathan Vilma, after an investigation found the club had a performance pool offering cash rewards for key plays, including big hits. The player suspensions eventually were overturned.

Payton said he wasn't involved in the appeals process.

"I followed the process but I wasn't really privy to how those appeals went, how the meetings went, the specifics, and I'm still not," he said.

Payton said his situation was different because as head coach, "it all falls under your umbrella." He said he wouldn't allow himself to get "disappointed or upset, and I was just going to be patient to keep waiting and making sure I did everything the right way."

Loomis was suspended for eight games, Vitt for six and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams remains suspended indefinitely

Payton said he has not spoken to Williams and "I have no interest in talking to Gregg."

He said he missed football "quite a bit" but that the hardest part was missing the daily interaction with colleagues like Loomis and Vitt and players like quarterback Drew Brees and defensive lineman Will Smith.

Brees said Wednesday from the Pro Bowl that he is excited to have Payton return. He said he texted briefly with the coach and they plan to talk more during Super Bowl week.

"That's just overtime," Brees said. "It's not all going to happen in one sit-down."

Saints guard Jahri Evans said he looked forward to catching up with Payton just to see how he's been doing. He called Payton "a special guy" for his play calling and coaching ability.

Evans expects the Saints will benefit from Payton's observations from afar during this season.

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