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Payton was gracious whenever he was approached by fans and signed autographs, including one on a woman’s “Free Payton” shirt.

“It’s humbling. It’s overwhelming,” Payton said. “We’ve got the greatest fans in sport. … There’s that bond that’s been uniquely formed. It certainly started long before we ever arrived, but it’s gotten stronger since Katrina and the Super Bowl and so there’s a close relationship.”

Payton said he suspects there will be moments this fall when he’s watching the Saints and struggles with the fact that he cannot be with the club, but said those feelings won’t overwhelm him because of the enjoyment he’ll get from being with Connor and teenage daughter Meghan.

“Often times with what we do, the time we get to spend with our children is limited,” Payton said. “So I’m looking forward to taking advantage of that.”