Evan Hilbert
Friday April 13th, 2012

New Orleans Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt will serve as the team's interim head coach in Sean Payton's absence, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Payton, of course, will be suspended for the entirety of the 2012 season after his role in the bounty scandal that has rocked the NFL this offseason.

"It is important that we keep Sean Payton's philosophy front and center during this season. Sean has been the driving force behind the tremendous success our team has enjoyed during the past six years, his leadership will be missed," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said, according to the report. "But we need to set a course of action that gives us the best chance to win this season without our head coach, and that is why I am announcing today that Joe Vitt will assume Sean's duties. We considered a number of great options to handle Payton's duties both internally and externally, but believe this will provide the most seamless transition for our players and our coaching staff, allowing our offensive and defensive staffs to remain intact with the fewest changes. This is the same structure we used last season during Sean's knee injury." Vitt, who has been with the team for seven seasons, served as acting head coach in 2011 when Payton was out with a knee injury.

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