He didn't emerge bearded from a Chinese prison like Jack Bauer, but Sean Payton's emergence from NFL exile drew nearly as much interest. Speaking to the media for the first time since being reinstated by the league on Tuesday, Payton answered questions for close to 45 minutes at Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala.
While we don't have the space to cover all 45 minutes of Payton's briefing, we will provide Payton's answers to the five top of mind questions in the heads of any media member.
1. Are you surprised to be back this soon?
Going through the time-frame and getting past the first two, three weeks and trying to get into a routine outside of football, if you will, you just kind of temper any type of emotion in regards to expectation. I think the most important thing was just making sure that Commissioner Goodell and Ray Anderson, who I really talk with directly, Jeff Pash, all those people felt like I was dotting the i's and crossing the t's. Many of you have reached out with interview requests. I appreciate that, but I wanted to make sure that there was nothing that was ever going to jeopardize reinstatement.
2. What was it like to watch Saints games from home?
I found myself a routine on game day. Of course, I would get the coaches cut copy in the middle of the week, so I had that available. Like anything else, you're watching from afar and there are certain things you would see, it becomes at times frustrating... You understand as you watch from afar the early struggles. You feel frustrated.
3. What was the hardest part of the suspension?
The amount of time you spend together with the players and your fellow coaches is extraordinary. You want to see them do well. You want to see them have success. I think the hardest part was not football, it was so many people that we're talking about, Mickey Loomis, Mr. Benson, a number of the players, you're used to talking with on a regular basis. The most difficult part for me was not having the personal interaction, not necessarily football related, but just as you would as a friend.
4. Now that you're back, what's your first order of business?
Getting back into a routine is a big priority right now. Being reinstated now with all that's going on, you guys understand, as soon as the season ends there's a lot of work to begins towards next year. That's helpful to us, certainly we need to do a lot of things.
5. What did you learn in your time away?
We're in the business of teaching. We tell our players all the time, 'Let's not repeat, let's learn from our mistakes.' The challenges of managing a staff and understanding how important that is.