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Plane with “Free Payton” banner buzzes Saints practice

Sean Payton

**CORRECTS LAST NAME TO PAYTON** Suspended New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, center, walks past the New Orleans Saints team seated at the induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)


The Saints have practiced under a large picture of Sean Payton throughout training camp and they got another reminder of their coach’s absence on Wednesday.

A group of Saints fans unhappy about the season-long suspension handed to Payton have taken to the sky with their complaint. Sheldon Mickles of the Baton Rouge Advocate reports that a plane towing a banner reading “Free Payton” flew over Wednesday’s Saints practice for about 15 minutes before taking its message in support of the Saints coach elsewhere. Interim coach Joe Vitt claimed to have missed the plane while linebacker Scott Shanle was one of the Saints players who copped to catching a glimpse.

“We all got a chuckle out of it,” Shanle said. “Somebody noticed and then everybody kind of noticed it. It doesn’t surprise me with the support for coach Payton off the charts.”

The group behind the flight is soliciting donations from fans to keep the planes flying. A member of the group telling Mickles that they plan to have them fly every day until Payton is “released.”

With the flights costing $500 an hour and the NFL showing no sign of changing their mind on Payton’s suspension, we’ve got a feeling they’re going to fall short of that goal.