Now, with his season-long suspension set to begin Sunday, he is checking to see whether mentor Bill Parcells would run the team while he serves his penalty for allowing a Saints assistant coach and players to operate a bounty system.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the sanctions, Payton said Tuesday he will soon decide whether to appeal his suspension, something Commissioner Roger Goodell said he would allow.
Payton said he was meeting with Parcells, who lives near Palm Beach, to discuss the plan for the season.
“He’s a great teacher,” Payton said. “Certainly I’m biased, having worked with him. But he’s a Hall of Fame head coach. And I would also say there’s some things probably set up in the framework of our program that would be exactly how he would have set those things up had
he been the head coach here in ’06.”
Payton twice apologized for his role in an enterprise that offered payouts for knocking out opponents, saying he takes “full responsibility” for a system that operated for three years under his watch.
“As the head coach, anything that happens in the framework of your team and your program, you’re responsible for,” Payton said. “And that’s a lesson I’ve learned. And it’s one that it’s easy to get carried away, in regards to a certain side of the ball or more involved offensively or defensively. And that’s something that I regret.”
Payton said he was confident he will coach the Saints again in 2013, and that his biggest challenge was realizing that for the first time in 39 years, he might not have an active role in football.
“You go through a range of emotions that kind of hit you,” Payton said. “You’re disappointed in yourself that it got to this point.”
Payton said he didn’t want the scandal to “taint or tarnish” his team’s recent success.
Asked whether he might work in broadcasting this season, Payton said anyone in his position would keep their options open.
If Parcells, 71, returned to the sideline, he might have to wait another five years before becoming eligible for the Hall of Fame again.
Asked by Sports Illustrated on Monday whether he had a desire to coach another team, Parcells said, “I don’t think so.”