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Sean Payton: Scandal doesn't stain New Orleans Saints

Sean Payton is settling back into his role with the New Orleans Saints, but he understands a shift toward normalcy doesn't mean the bounty scandal that triggered his season-long suspension by the NFL is soon to be forgotten.

The Saints coach acknowledged Wednesday his punishment was "unprecedented" and "stands out" because of it, but Payton believes that it won't diminish what the franchise has achieved since he took over in 2006.

"I don't think it at all tarnishes the accomplishments of this team," Payton told ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" show. "When it's all said and done, and we look at this stretch, however long this stretch goes, I think the accomplishments and what we do and how we earn what we earn on the field, is most important and what's most remembered."

Asked why he accepted his suspension, while his players fought tirelessly to have their names cleared, Payton said the presence of an active union helped the athletes. Payton argued the "process is different" with the NFL Coaches Association.

Saints players slammed the punishments handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and quarterback Drew Brees recently admitted he's still angry with the NFL, but Payton has adopted a different tone and hinted that moving forward will be addressed "when the players get back."

"For me to be removed from it for eight months," Payton said. "I wasn't going to able to spend months feeling that same anger without going crazy, and I think it's going to be important for all of us to move forward."

That will take time, but the Saints certainly will welcome an offseason absent of distractions.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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