Saints' Tribute to Payton Misguided

AP Photo

Apparently, the Saints plan to treat Sean Payton's absence with the reverence accorded a fallen hero, not a head coach serving a fairly justifiable year's suspension from the NFL. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the team plans to leave a seat vacant on its planes and buses this season, representing the Saints' banned leader, and the Saints already have left empty chairs where Payton would have sat for the draft and in meeting rooms.

These gestures sound lovely, but as tributes to Payton's value, they can't beat the impact of a 7-9 season in his absence. If the Saints succeed, despite the chaos wrought by their bounty scandal, the coach's return next season could be awkward. If they somehow advance deeper into the playoffs than they have in the two seasons...

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