Sean Payton is back and the New Orleans Saints are trying to forget one of the most painful periods in team history. Payton stresses that the team needs to forget about the bounty scandal and everything that took place before that. He wants to start fresh in 2013.
Sean Payton joined Carmen, Jurko, and Harry on ESPN Radio Chicago to discuss his suspension, his return to the Saints, expectations in New Orleans, the team’s search for a new defensive coordinator and the distraction factor that came with the bounty scandal. He also weighed in on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
On if he watched games on Sundays when he was suspended:
“I watched all of them. You watched all the Saint games with [NFL Sunday Ticket] and all the other games that were on. That part of it was challenging. The hardest part of it was just not having the interaction you’re used to having with your friends. The relationships, that all goes quiet. And so as much as the practices and the games were difficult, I think the harder part of it was just not having that contact and that interaction that you’re used to for, shoot, 25, 26 years.”
On getting over the bitterness:
“You’re going to drive yourself crazy if you continue to live each day that way. And so probably for the first two to three weeks you go through those mood swings where you’re angry, you’re disappointed, all those things. And then at some point you gotta kind of turn the page, and it probably took at least two to three weeks to do that.”
On if he became frustrated helplessly watching from afar:
“It would be like taking you away from your restaurant, if you had one, and you had a security camera that you looked at for eight months, and there were things that you saw being done that maybe you wouldn’t do the same way. And so absolutely that happens. And yet you know that the guys there, back in the building, players and coaches, they’re all trying to keep the program kind of in the same direction.”
On starting fresh in 2013, without expectations:
“I’m coming in with the mindset that this is my first year here and I just got hired.”
On the defensive coordinator search:
“We’re waiting on a third interview for next week. But with the combine two weeks away, I don’t want to have to hurry to make the decision, but yet there’s a sense of urgency.”
On the suspensions and the scandal being a distraction for the team:
“It was a distraction. It had to have been, and I think the most important thing for us is being able to turn the page and get past it now and move forward, where it doesn’t become something that distracts something that we want to accomplish in ’13.”
On Bears quarterback Jay Cutler:
“The question is, ‘Can we get it into the end zone with this guy? Can he lead us to where we want to go, to where Jim McMahon took the Bears back in the eighties?’ And I think he can. … I think he’s a great talent. He’s someone at that state where he’s at where I think that expectation level rises a little bit because you want to see that next step.”