After 15 seasons, Sean Payton has some stories to tell

Recently, Sean Payton did hot yoga for the first time in a long time. The former NFL coach has had more time to do that since he announced in late January that he was stepping down after 15 seasons as coach of the New Orleans Saints. That doesn’t mean he’s done strategizing or thinking in schemas. “If you’re ever going to do hot yoga, you really need to position yourself near an air current — or [where you have] the ability to get out,” he says over the phone from Florida, where he and his wife live while work is done on their home in New Orleans. “Occasionally you’re late for a class and you’re trapped in a corner and you’re at the hottest spot in the class — I felt like I was there yesterday.” It’s that quality — what he calls an “insane” attention to detail – which made Sean Payton so successful during his remarkably long career in New Orleans. (The only current coach with a longer tenure is Bill Belichick, widely considered the greatest coach in NFL history.)

But a coach doesn’t stay in one place for long because he’s well prepared. In the end you have to win. When Payton was hired in January 2006, the Saints had made the playoffs just five times in season ’39 – and the city was still suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But he still won. In his freshman season, the Saints, with the help of new quarterback Drew Brees, won 10-6 and made the NFC championship game. In 2009 they won the Super Bowl. Payton brought them back to the playoffs in seven of the following 12 seasons. (He was suspended for the entire 2012 season as punishment for “bountygate,” which discovered that Saints players were being offered “bounties” for attempts to injure opposing players.) Over the past five years, his team has won more games than all other NFL teams except for the Kansas City Chiefs.

At the press conference announcing his departure, Payton said he didn’t want to call it “retirement,” leaving the door open to speculation he might return to coaching in the future. But he has also insisted he is committed to staying on the sidelines in 2022 and hopes to break into televised coverage. Whenever he officially retires, he’ll likely be inducted into the Hall of Fame. GQ Payton called ahead of the Super Bowl to ask about building a winning culture after Katrina, almost drafting Patrick Mahomes, and how close Drew Brees was to coming out of retirement this year.

GQ: When you first started with the Saints, did you have any idea how Hurricane Katrina would be a part of your first season?

Sean Payton: We were naïve about what was about to happen. We, like everyone else, saw Katrina from afar, the pictures, the coverage. I was preparing for an interview with Green Bay, and I knew the Saints were interested, too. On a Tuesday morning I’m on a flight to Green Bay. I came back on Wednesday. I thought it went really well. A few days later I went to New Orleans. That evening I’m in the hotel room freshening up for dinner when I find out that Green Bary is hiring another bus. I remember throwing my phone in the pillow because I knew I had a good interview with them. And look, my first 24 hours on that Saints interview were all blue tarps [everywhere], nobody at the airport. I liked Mickey Loomis, the GM, but I was like, man, that’s his problem, not mine. Have you ever been somewhere where a real estate agent shows you a house and you already know in the hallway that you don’t like it? But then you have to get ready and see each room, and she says, “Any questions?” And you say, “None.”

After 15 seasons, Sean Payton has some stories to tell

Source link After 15 seasons, Sean Payton has some stories to tell

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