Monday, April 9, 2012

NFL upholds Sean Payton suspension

When the New Orleans Saints break for training camp this July they will do so without Sean Payton as head coach.

The NFL has upheld a previous ruling to suspend the Saints head coach for the entire season for his involvement in a bounty scandal that rocked the NFL landscape over the past month. Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt will still serve a six week suspension during the regular season, and GM Mickey Loomis will still serve an eight week suspension beginning September 5.

This means while Loomis will work in the Saints front office during the draft and in training camp, neither Payton nor Vitt will have any access to the team. Thus, forget the scenario where Vitt has his suspension shortened to act as Head Coach through training camp, serve a short suspension and then take over as the HC of the NO Saints in October. Therefore the Saints will have to decide, allow either Pete Carmichael or Steve Spagnoluo to become the head coach, or go out and get Bill Parcells.

Payton has been campaigning for Parcells to take the job, an odd recommendation considering Parcells hasn't coached since 2006, and was last seen wrecking the Miami Dolphins franchise from a front office seat. Perhaps Payton, fearing  great success for either Carmichael or Spagnoluo that might cost him his job in the long run, would rather see Parcells in the gig since he is no threat to Payton's long term job security; as is his wont, Parcells is here today, gone tomorrow.

More important, Parcells doesn't know this coaching staff. He doesn't know the players, and outside of occasionally meeting players here and there, he really doesn't know their tendencies and needs. He can't just walk in at this point in the off-season with players four weeks away from mini-camp and expect to command immediate results.

Thus, Carmichael is the best choice. No disrespect to Spagnoluo, who was a head coach for the St. Louis Rams the past three seasons, but he just took over as the Saints defensive coordinator and will still need time to learn about the team in his own right. Carmichael has been with the Saints for years and was credited with sparking this offense last season when he took over the play-calling after Payton injured his leg on a freak sideline accident that sidelined him for six weeks. A lot of teams were curious about Carmichael this off-season to be their head coach, and if he does get the Saints gig and succeeds, he becomes that much more valuable in 2013.

Either way, Sean Payton will have no future with the Saints until next year, barring Tom Benson growing more accustomed to the interim coach, and then deciding to make the move that should be inevitable; i.e., fire Payton.

It's hard to exonerate both Payton and Vitt from this fiasco. They both knew. Everyone on the Saints coaching staff knew about Greg Williams' bounty plans. They are both guilty because both served as the head coach of this team when Williams was running amock. Payton and Vitt got what they deserved. The question now remains, how does this affect the status of both when the return from suspension? Vitt was never a head coaching commodity, he's a long time assistant. Payton, however, was the golden boy who turned around a woebegone franchise. If he is released from his contract after, or during, this suspension it will be interesting to see which team would dare go after him.

Someone will.

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