IRVING — Suspended New Orleans Saints head coach certainly has plenty of time on his hands these days.
On Wednesday, he was playing with PGA golfer Ricky Barnes in the Pro-Am of the HP Byron Nelson Golf Championship.
"This time of the year it's always great," Payton said. "When you get to play in a Pro-Am, and you get to see these guys hit the ball, it's amazing. It's always enjoyable."
Payton apparently didn't quite make his 7:40 a.m. tee time. "He showed up a little late," Barnes said. "He's a good guy, and a real pleasure to be with. I'm a huge, huge football fan."
While he's suspended, Payton can have no direct involvement with the team. "Obviously, our schedule is different — mine is different than it normally would be, and so you have time to things you normally wouldn't be able to do," Payton said after his round.
The Saints will apparently honor Payton this fall by leaving an empty seat in their locker room, on team buses and on team planes. In the meantime, his schedule is a lot different this year.
"Yeah, every off-season it kind of quiets down," Payton said. "You want to get out and play as much golf as you can. We don't get a chance to do that a lot. Playing an event like this, we live close by here, so we're real supportive of it and excited to see it this year. I have had a real good opportunity, and will continue to spend more time with the children, and excited to do that."
He will have plenty of time to work on his golf game as well.
"If it doesn't get any better this off-season, it probably won't ever. Hopefully it will," Payton said. "There's a lot more corrections to be made with my swing than hopefully our team."