MOBILE, Ala. -- This post pretty much has nothing to do with the Eagles, except where Sean Payton said Wednesday at the Senior Bowl that there was never any chance of him going to another team when the NFL invalidated a clause in Payton's contract. technically, that could have made the Saints' coach a free agent upon his return to the NFL following his one-year Bountygate suspension.
But as the throng of reporters and cameras around Payton at the end of the North team practiced attested, Payton's first public appearance after his two-week early reinstatement was a big deal in the NFL world, one your Eagletarian would have felt weird just ignoring.
"Unique and unprecedented" were the words Payton used to describe the tangled Bountygate saga, which saw the proud Saints, prime Super Bowl contenders before the sanctions came down, finish 7-9 and out the playoffs, setting a record for yards allowed.
Payton, by the way, said he had no need or intention to speak with his former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, the alleged mastermind of the Saints' bounty system.
Payton said the hardest part of his exile was not being able to talk to the people he usually interacts with regularly -- Saints management, his players and fellow coaches."That was what I found more difficult than football," Payton said.
He said it's very important the team and its fans find closure, something he feels next week's Super Bowl will help provide, as a sort of reconciliation between the city and the league.
Payton did not want to rehash the case or the fairness of the penalties levied, which have been the focus of attention in New Orleans for a year.
Payton indicated he put away any anger or resentment over commissioner Roger Goodell's penalties early in his banishment.
"To dwell on it, with the time that I had ... You had to move on from it, regardless of how you felt, knowing that there's eight more months here, we can drive ourselves crazy if we just continue to hold those thoughts, whether you thought it was fair or not. I think turning the page is important, very important."
Look for more in Thursday's Daily News.