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Sunday, March 25, 2012
Still waiting for Saints to march in

By Pat Yasinskas

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Most of the NFC South has had a strong presence in the lobby of The Breakers on Sunday afternoon, except for the New Orleans Saints.

I have not seen a single Saints official or employee so far at the NFL owners meeting. Adam Schefter reported earlier that coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis are expected to attend the meeting. Ed Daniels of New Orleans television station WGNO has reported that a team official said the New Orleans delegation will be landing in South Florida late Sunday night. The meeting does not officially start until Monday morning.

The big question is if Payton and Loomis will discuss their three-year bounty program that led to the coach getting a one-year suspension and the general manager being suspended for the first eight games of the season.

The NFL has urged them to address the media at some point during the meeting, but the decision is ultimately up to Payton and Loomis.

I think it would be a good move for Payton and Loomis to step in front of the cameras. I’m sure Saints fans would like to hear what they have to say. I also think Payton’s case for reinstatement (his suspension begins April 1 and it will be a year before he’s eligible for reinstatement) would be enhanced if he steps forward and publicly apologizes.

I also think it would be a very good idea for Saints owner Tom Benson to address the media – not for the sake of the media, but for the sake of Saints’ fans – to speak publicly for the first time since this scandal started. Benson generally doesn’t do a lot of interviews and doesn’t seek attention. But this is one situation where he has to step forward and make some sort of statement.

Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt if Benson were to say who will take over as head coach while Payton is suspended.