Bill Parcells unlikely to coach Saints
Sean Payton's suspension takes effect Monday, but it is a virtual certainty that Bill Parcells will not become interim coach for the New Orleans Saints in 2012, according to team sources.
While there has been minimal communication between the Saints and Parcells in the past week, a source said that Parcells indicated to Payton in a recent conversation that he preferred to remain retired.
Parcells, a Hall of Fame finalist who turns 71 in August, has not coached since 2006, when he finished a four-year stint with the Dallas Cowboys.
Saints spokesman Greg Bensel declined Tuesday to confirm Parcells has been ruled out as a possible Payton replacement, saying the team "has nothing to report" concerning the search for an interim coach.
Parcells' agent, Jimmy Sexton, also declined to comment.
There are growing indications that the Saints will turn to Joe Vitt, the assistant head coach/linebackers, as the interim coach when the Saints begin their offseason program Monday, the day Payton begins serving his one-year suspension.
Vitt will serve a six-game suspension, but will be available to oversee the team's offseason program. If he is asked to become the interim head coach, other assistants will manage the team when the season opens until Vitt returns after the sixth game.
The Saints still could ask other candidates on staff to fill the interim position, but Vitt is the strongest candidate. Other candidates on the Saints' staff include offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Last season, Vitt and Carmichael took on significant additional responsibilities when Payton was rehabilitating for weeks from a broken leg.
Vitt took on many of the broader responsibilities, including handling the role of the head coach's media availability. Carmichael began calling plays, something Payton had done before his injury. Payton allowed Carmichael to continue calling plays through the final 10 regular-season games of 2011 as the Saints went 9-1 and broke numerous NFL offensive records.
Payton had gauged Parcells' interest in serving as interim coach shortly after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Payton would be suspended for the 2012 season because of his role during the team's administration of a performance/bounty pool.
Goodell on Monday denied appeals by Payton, Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis, who will have to serve an eight-game suspension.
Payton's suspension will last through Super Bowl XLVII, which is being held in New Orleans.
The NFL's statement Monday said that Goodell will review the status of the three individuals after each suspension ends. Sources told ESPN that all of them will have to adhere to league restrictions during their suspensions or put at risk their timely reinstatement, possible reductions of financial penalties, and possible modification of a forfeited 2013 second-round draft pick.
A league official told ESPN on Monday that Payton is "not allowed to engage in any coaching activities. Roger [Goodell] commented on that at the league meeting press conference, saying he's not na´ve enough to think there won't be some contact, but [Payton's] not allowed to coach from home ... If a player has a baby, can he call to congratulate him? I don't think we're going to worry about that, or have a wiretap on his phone."
The Saints previously were fined $500,000 and docked second-round picks this year and next for a three-year pay-for-pain system that rewarded injury-causing hits by Saints defenders.
Although the Saints cannot salvage their 2012 second-rounder, the league's announcement suggested there could be a modification of the 2013 pick penalty and reduction in the individuals' lost pay, although the fine will not be reduced.
"Whatever's thrown at us this year, we'll continue to thrive," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said while attending a golf tournament in San Diego on Monday.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.