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Sean Payton on chance to become first coach to win Super Bowls with two teams: 'I like those kind of things'

In a wide-ranging interview with 9NEWS, Payton discussed benefits of his year away, Wilson's private coaching staff, and his movie, "Home Team."

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Sean Payton begins anew after taking a year off.

After 16 mostly success years as head coach of the New Orleans Saints, not including his one year involuntary sabbatical in 2012, Payton needed a break. He was coming off two consecutive seasons of COVID that forced so many unprecedented adjustments. He started taking stock of his own health and mortality. The word, burnout was used as one explanation when quizzed in a sit-down interview Monday with 9NEWS about taking the 2022 season off from coaching – if not so many other things life.

He then veered into how he didn’t realize how much he missed his every day interactions with the Saints’ owners and executives – long-time friends – until his life went cold turkey with those interactions. And then, Payton mentioned that as he considered taking time away, he started thinking about how getting away could him branch out.

“Honestly, I didn’t see my whole career being in one NFL team,’’ Payton said. “Now, I didn’t see myself hopping around like (Bill) Parcells did with three or four head coaching jobs. Someone who has been pretty influential for me. But I didn’t see it like that but I did see at some point working with another club.

“And look, no coach has ever won a Super Bowl with two different teams. Here we are in 2023, it’s never happened.’’

Coaches like Don Shula, Parcells, Dick Vermeil, Mike Holmgren and Andy Reid won a Super Bowl with one team and lost a Super Bowl with another. Dan Reeves lost Super Bowls with two teams.

“But no one has won a Super Bowl with two different teams,’’ Payton said. “I like those kind of things.”

Credit: 9NEWS

Other topics Payton discussed during his interview with 9NEWS:

*Russell Wilson’s private quarterback coach and training staff that observed training camp and regular-season practices in 2022 before their access was gradually scaled back in the second half of the season:

“I’m not familiar with that,’’ Payton said. “We’re really not looking backwards. We wipe off the rearview mirrors as we look forward. I’m not familiar with that relative to what we’re going to do. I’m going to hire the coaching staff. There’s going to be a certain method of how we practice, how we prepare, so how it was done prior -- some of it unique and maybe some of it very common -- is of no importance to me.

“Certainly we’re not going to have private individuals out there coaching. If they’re on our staff they’ll be out there.”

*How the Broncos’ job in general was not necessarily viewed well by others.

When Broncos CEO Greg Penner began his head coaching search, with aid from general manager George Paton, and fellow owners Condoleezza Rice, Carrie Penner and Rob Walton, the two candidates to beat form an interview list of eight were Jim Harbaugh and Sean Payton for the simple reason they had vast and successful head coaching experience.

But there were other coaches and agents within the NFL industry who wondered if Harbaugh and Payton would be interested in the Broncos. There was reason to argue the Broncos were not a great job. For three reasons: One, there was great uncertainty about the declined 2022 production of quarterback Russell Wilson, who still has three more guaranteed years and $104 million guaranteed dollars left on his contract. Two, Patrick Mahomes II plays for the rival Kansas City Chiefs inside the Broncos’ AFC West Division and he is only 27 – the Chiefs have won seven division titles in a row and showing no signs of decline. Three, the Broncos’ current roster is reflective of the team’s seven-year decline.

Payton, though, didn’t view the Broncos in such bleak shades.

“Correct. I looked at it a different way,’’ Payton said. “And you’re right, No. 1 when these jobs open generally speaking there’s no utopia. They’re open for a reason. No. 2, I looked at it relative to what I felt was responsible for our success in New Orleans.

“I don’t know back in ’06 that I was looking at Jon Gruden and Tampa Bay as Super Bowl champions (in 2002) at the top of the NFC South. I wasn’t looking at the external teams in the division. I was focused on how do we get our team squared away?

“Reflecting, though, on the understanding how important Mickey Loomis our GM was  for our success. Understanding how important (Saints owners) Gayle and Tom Benson were to our success. Those were things I felt mattered. And I also valued the tradition (in Denver). I wanted to go somewhere where it’s really important.”

Payton, you see, prioritized three other factors that led to the Broncos: Ownership, specifically, Greg Penner. The general manager position and Payton said George Paton reminded him of Loomis and how “we hit it off kind of right away.” And three, the fact the Broncos had a remarkable 40-year run of success (more Super Bowl appearances than losing seasons) prior to their current seven-year slump.

*What Payton’s one year away did for his mental and emotional well-being:


“Football is still important in that year off,’’ he said. “I’m working with FOX. Pretty soon you can’t wait for Sundays because that’s your only fix. To have interaction with other guys who have played. It’s a cliché to say recharge the batteries, I think it’s more of you find yourself getting to do things you normally don’t get to do.

“I’m spending more time with my daughter Meghan. Living fairly close to her (when she attending Pepperdine University, graduating with a degree in sports broadcasting). Spending time with my son Connor watching his journey with TCU, he’s a student assistant there and watching them advance and have the season they did.

“Those are things you don’t get those back. Being there for Michigan-TCU game. Being at SoFi (Stadium) with 15 of his friends at TCU and housing them and watching the national championship game and being there with Meghan. There’s a lot of things you miss when you have this position. It was a chance to catch up on a lot of those things.’’

*The Netflix movie, “Home Team.”

The mostly true life chapter in Payton’s life from when he was suspended from the entire 2012 NFL season for his alleged role in Bountygate and how he used his time away to coach his son Connor’s sixth-grade football team in Texas.

The movie was released in 2022. How accurate was the movie’s portrayal of Payton (who was played by Kevin James of The King of Queens and Paul Blart: Mall Cop fame) and his 2012 story?

“I think 60 percent of that movie is fairly true,’’ Payton said. “And then 40 percent was … I was interviewed by them and had a chance to approve the scripts and everything and look, I coached a sixth grade team. My son was on that team. It was an important time in my son’s life and my daughter’s life. We had just gone through a divorce. I think when you watched the movie you get the sense I had been gone for three years and I was finally returning home. None of that was accurate.’’

The Rob Schneider role as his ex-wife’s husband?

“Yeah, that’s not accurate at all, his role,’’ Payton said. “But I did think it was important for everyone to look at it and be comfortable with this because it was supposed to be Bad News Bears or Little Giants story. But it was a 6th grade team. I went back as an offensive coordinator. I was familiar with all the kids because when you’re a parent you go to all the Little League games and got to the basketball games. In seventh grade they fell under the school umbrella and the school coaches coached them. So this was the last season they were being coached by parents.

“So we said, ‘Let’s have a mission statement: No. 1, we want them all to come back and play football the next year. They’re all going to play two positions, they’re all going to play a spot on offense and defense. We’re going to teach them the fundamentals and everyone is going to play but we’re going to be competitive, too.

“And then I had all day. Everyone else was working, going to school and I was home with the DVD player, looking at film, putting practice plans together. So it was at a different level but we started having success and yes there was that one team (The Porcupines) in the movie you see that we had trouble with. But we did win and we won a lot.’’


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