Sean Payton proud of Saints

Updated: September 5, 2012, 9:04 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

When the New Orleans Saints kick off their season Sunday by hosting the Washington Redskins, coach Sean Payton won't be there because of his season-long suspension, but he'll definitely be watching.

Payton told the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune in an extensive interview that he watches all the Saints games live, if he's not helping coach his 12-year-old son Connor's team.

Payton was among Saints personnel suspended as a result of an NFL investigation that concluded the team ran a bounty program from the 2009 through 2011 seasons. The league said the program offered improper cash bonuses to defensive players for hits that injured opponents.

Even though he won't be on the sideline this season, he expects the Saints to do well without him.

"I think this program, we've worked hard on it, really invested a lot of time. Coaches, everyone in that organization. We've overcome a lot of challenges in the past. I'm excited to watch them play," he told the newspaper.

Payton said it has been tough to remain quiet about his penalties and that he, general manager Mickey Loomis and the rest of the Saints' coaches who were disciplined are "in a much different position than the players, in regards to players having a union."

The players disciplined, headlined by linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who also received a season-long ban, have challenged their suspensions, with Vilma going as far to sue the league in federal court.

"I think ultimately our goal is to get reinstated at the right time. Yeah, it's frustrating at times to sit back and hear a lot of things that have been painted in a certain way that you know aren't true. But that being said, I support every one of those guys and pay close attention to what's going on with Jon and the rest of those players and Mickey and Joe (Vitt) and everyone," he told the newspaper.

While Payton wasn't with the team for training camp, his image was -- thanks to a large poster of his face featuring the words "Do Your Job" that is in the Saints' practice facility.

He thanked Saints owner Tom Benson for his support and for putting up the poster, but he said he made the owner promise it wouldn't be up once he returns.

" ... I made him promise that as soon as I come back, it comes down. But we've always looked for ways to motivate and get our message across. And I appreciate his support more than anything in the world," he told the newspaper.

He also said he won't feel threatened if the team was to excel without him. Rather, it would make him proud of what he has helped to build in New Orleans.

"This is our team. Not any individual. A group of people have worked very hard together to have success. We've always preached about eliminating the 'I's' and 'me's' and creating a team element to the sport," he told the newspaper. "Coaches, offensive line, defensive line, the whole building. Everyone's got a part in it. Collectively we've been able to have a lot of success, and a lot of people have worked hard to make that happen."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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