Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

8 Things Sean Payton Should Do While He’s Suspended

Starting April 1, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton will be suspended for a year without pay for his role in an "active bounty program" funded by Saints players and defensive coach Greg Williams during the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons. The under-the-table program rewarded players for injuring opposing team players and knocking them out of a game. Vikings fans suspected something was going on during the January 24, 2010 Vikings-Saints game, a game that would determine who would go to the Super Bowl that year. Quarterback Brett Favre took several brutal hits, including a controversial combination hit by Saints Bobby McCray and Remi Ayodele. Although he hasn’t admitted any wrongdoing, Payton did concede, "As the head coach, anything that happens within the framework of your team and your program you’re responsible for … that’s a lesson I’ve learned." So what are some things Payton could do during the 2012 season as penance for his and his team’s mistakes?

  1. Learn to play the trumpet

    Music is integral to daily life in New Orleans, and nearly everyone you meet there plays an instrument. Before New Orleans-born Louis Armstrong, there was the mysterious Buddy Bolden, a trumpet player who, at the turn of the century, introduced the instrument, a military instrument no less, to the world of the dance bands, and set the course for a style of improvised music that would come to be known as "jazz." The trumpet is a harsh mistress, requiring hours of practice before one can play anything sounding remotely musical. But if he puts in the time, Payton just might have his trumpet chops ready for next year’s Mardi Gras.

  2. Start sewing a Mardi Gras Indian costume

    Speaking of Mardi Gras, the elaborate, colorful costumes worn by members of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian tribes, some weighing more than 100 pounds, take an entire year to create. The bead work alone demands several hours of sewing by hand. Payton might not be all that handy with a needle and thread, but helping to sew an Indian’s costume would be an opportunity for him to develop that skill and give something back to the community. So long as the traditionally secretive tribes don’t mind welcoming a suspended football coach into their fold.

  3. Read Confederacy of Dunces

    Payton should read John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Confederacy of Dunces not so much as penance, but because if he hasn’t read it, and come to know the book’s obese, slovenly, flatulent hero Ignatius J. Reilly, then he really has no business coaching a New Orleans football team. Maybe Payton would take some comfort reading about a character as delusional as Reilly who throughout the book remains convinced that "the dunces are all in confederacy against him." Payton could grow a mustache, show up at his next press conference wearing a green hunting cap with ear flaps, scream about how the Goddess Fortuna has "spun him downwards" on her wheel of fortune and see if anyone gets the joke.

  4. Pray

    There’s a reason why you see Saints fans in the Superdome dressed up as bishops. Although well known for its hedonism, parties, and parades, the city of New Orleans is deeply spiritual. During the 2010 season, one Catholic bishop at St. Louis Cathedral reportedly told the congregation, "St. Paul reminded us in the second reading that we are part of the body of Christ. Today we are also reminded that we are all part of the Who Dat Nation." St. Louis Cathedral and St. Augustine Catholic Church, a church founded by free people of color who purchased pews so that slaves could participate in services, are just two New Orleans churches where Payton, a good Irish Catholic, could take some time to ruminate over the events of the past few seasons.

  5. Learn to make a roux

    We mentioned music, but food, glorious food, is not only integral, but crucial to daily life in New Orleans. There are several nationalities representing in New Orleans’ culinary culture, but Cajun and Creole cooking dominate its award-winning restaurants. Maybe we’re presuming too much, but our guess is that spending some time slaving over a hot stove would do Payton some good, especially if he’s given the task of stirring a combination of flour and oil every 15 seconds over the course of an hour to create a roux for traditional homemade gumbo. Like praying, cooking can be a contemplative experience.

  6. DJ a late-night show on WWOZ

    New Orleans radio station WWOZ is one of the few radio stations left in the U.S. that plays, well, music. Traditional jazz, brass band music, and blues are all represented along with Irish folk music, novelty records from the ’50s, and even deep wax and classic soul. But in spite of the fact that New Orleans is well known for its own unique style of hip-hop, WWOZ programming stays away from that genre. To remedy this, why not give Payton a DJ slot from 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. where he plays nothing but classic tracks from the No Limit and Cash Money labels? Up and coming New Orleans rappers can join him in the studio to profess their love for The Saints and promote their latest tracks. We’re surprised no one had already thought of this! Football and hip-hop go together like red beans and rice.

  7. Be on call at New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village

    Created by New Orleans natives musicians Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis in collaboration with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, Musicians’ Village provides housing for several generations of musicians who were displaced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Why not give Payton a toolbox, brushes, and a few cans of paint, and have him be the on-call handyman of Musicians’ Village during the 2012 season? Imagine the look of surprise on a resident’s face when, after requesting help in repairing a roof or repainting the trim on their house, the coach of the New Orleans Saints shows up to take care of the job.

  8. Serve hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s

    When it comes to penance, working as a waiter at French Quarter institution Pat O’Brien’s, serving booze to barely legal college students and disoriented tourists after dark on a Friday or Saturday night more than qualifies. Pat O’Brien’s notorious "specialty drinks" menu was born out of a shortage of grains and sugars during the Second World War, necessitating the use of rum in any alcoholic cocktail you wanted to mix and serve. Payton would be expected to work weekends, 6 p.m. to 4 a.m., with no break, and donate all of his tips to the New Orleans Musicians’ Health Clinic.