Continued from page 1

Payton spent only Tuesday at the NFL meetings and planned to be back at work in New Orleans on Wednesday, trying to tie up as many loose ends as he could in the next few days.

“I’ve got a lot of to-do things right now specific to football,” Payton said. “The offseason calendar, all of that has been laid out already. Everything has been basically planned all the way up to the Hall of Fame game. … Between now and then, there’s a lot of little things that I’ll try to make sure we get covered and handed over to our coaches so that they have a pretty good understanding as to what I’m looking for.”

General manager Mickey Loomis will be able to oversee the draft and work up until the season starts. Then he is slated to serve his eight-game suspension for failing to put a stop to the bounty system in a timely way. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who also coaches linebackers, is facing a six-game suspension.

The NFL’s investigation in New Orleans found that Payton initially lied to league investigators about the existence of a bounty and instructed his defensive assistants to do the same. Payton twice apologized for his role in an enterprise that offered payouts for knocking out opponents, saying he takes “full responsibility” for a system that operated for three years under his watch.

As many as 27 players also could be sanctioned for their role in the scandal.

Payton said he didn’t want the scandal to “taint or tarnish” his team’s recent success.

“We’ll get through this,” he said. “This will be a challenge. … You know, we’ve gone through a lot of adversity and we’ve won a lot of games in really a short window of time. And I know our players are leaders both within the locker room and the coaching staff will look at this as a challenge and a little bit as an opportunity.”

In addition to the penalties for Payton, Loomis and Vitt, Goodell also fined the Saints $500,000 and took away second-round draft choices in 2012 and 2013.


AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner and AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this story from Palm Beach, Fla.