Fresh off being reinstated by the NFL, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton met with the media Wednesday from the Senior Bowl to cover a number of topics. It's the most he has spoken since being suspended, and the conversation covered a lot of ground in 45 minutes.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Payton said former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' status did not come up during Payton's 4½-hour conversation with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
"I have no interest in talking to Gregg," Payton said.
That says a lot.
- "There was no way I was going to another team," Payton said. He called his contract flub and holdout a "minor technicality" that took time to work through.
- Asked if his season-long punishment was fair, Payton notably chose to avoid a direct answer. He compared the situation to a player having to move on from a bad call.
"It was more or less something you can't control. To dwell on it with the time that I had ... the first week or so, it was difficult," Payton said. "You felt a lot of different emotions. At that point, you have to move on from it. Regardless of how you felt, knowing there were eight months. You'd drive yourself crazy if you just continue to hold those thoughts, whether you thought it was fair or not."
- Payton made it clear he's not happy with the Saints' defense. Their problems "keep him up at night." Payton said the team will start meetings with the defensive staff immediately, and it did not sound like it would be a comfortable experience for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
- Payton described his relationship with Goodell as "very good."
- The Saints' 7-9 record simply can't be blamed on Payton's absence, the coach said. He didn't want to assume the team's problems would just go away when he returned. Smart. And he urged his players to move on from the drama as well.
"We've got a lot we have to fix to get back to where we were," he said.
- There has been no conversations with the NFL about the Saints getting back the second-round draft pick they lost as punishment in the bounty scandal.
- Payton admitted there were a lot of things he wishes he had handled differently before the scandal, especially managing his staff.
- It was a very professional, relaxed, smart session. The year off might have done Payton some good. He spoke about coaching his son's football team.
"I needed those players more than they needed me," Payton said.