CHOUDRANT, La. — Sean Payton appealed his year-long suspension Friday and on Friday night he used it to raise $42,000 for Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth's foundation.
As the guest speaker here at the fourth annual dinner for the Big Whit 77 Foundation, Payton, the embattled Saints coach, received five standing ovations from the crowd of about 400 at the Squire Creek Country Club. He revealed the surprise during his speech.
"If I'm not coaching," Payton said, "my wife's not coming."
And that got him to thinking about putting his suite on the block.
Payton's last day on the job is Sunday before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's suspension for his part in Bountygate takes hold. So he went out with a flourish, donating to the live auction his Superdome box for one of the Saints eight home games, a date to be decided by the fan once the schedule is announced around April 15.
"He told me right before he went up to make his speech; I guess there are 42,000 reasons why I invited him," Whitworth said.
Payton auctioned off the box himself, offering 16 pregame passes, a fully-stocked bar and menu, an autographed helmet and jersey and …
"And you can call the first play," Payton said. "I'll send him an e-mail."
That may or may not have been a reference to Bill Parcells, the man Payton wants to replace him.
But the money wasn't veiled. A grateful Whitworth and wife Melissa can use it for the foundation that identifies children who want to be leaders in the community as well as at-risk children.
"I was blown away by it," Whitworth said. "I think what he saw is what Melissa and I do is for real. Our passion is for real and he wanted to be a part of it."