Sean Payton spoke with ESPN anchor Hannah Storm on Friday’s SportsCenter’s “Face to Face” segment.
Below is a transcript of the interview:
On the speculation during the season about him potentially leaving for another team:
“The grass isn’t always greener at some spots. I have heard that talk about ‘you are approaching 10 years’ (with one team). For me, it’s nine years, 10 for our program and yet it’s different now. The players transition much quicker. I don’t feel like I am sitting in front of the same team…maybe you had that five or six years ago. I like this locker room, I like the way we finished and I love New Orleans.”
On if he could see himself coaching anywhere else:
“No, I see myself coaching my son every once in a while. I coached his sixth grade team. If I wasn’t coaching the Saints, I would be helping his team out at Liberty Christian. That would be the vision that I have.”
On why he wants to stay in New Orleans for the rest of his professional coaching career:
“(New Orleans) kind of grabs you. It doesn’t initially. I would have never said that in year two or three. I don’t know when that point comes. People talk to you about that city and there’s a point at which there are little things that grow on you and an appreciation for what we have gone through which is more than just football. I would also say, aside from the great things of that city, our structure.”
On what he meant by the importance of the team’s structure:
“Ownership, front office, general manager and head coach. I think there are many (teams’ structures) in our league that are dysfunctional. I think more than half.”
On what makes a team’s structure dysfunctional:
“The communication between that triangle of ownership, general manager and head coach. I see each year things that take place and I think 'man, we don't have to worry about them.' Now we might on that Sunday. But we don't have to worry about them winning the whole thing. That's something that changes. It's not a permanent thing for any team, nor is it permanent for us. We don't take it for granted in any way.
“We've got to find a way to do a better job in personnel. We've got to find a way to get north of this 7-9 season we just had. I don't take that triangle for granted at all because what would be more frustrating than coaching somewhere where you had no chance?”
On what’s the biggest challenge of his coaching career at this point:
“I think we're constantly challenged to change, to adapt to how our players are learning today.”
On how the way players are learning is different today:
“There are some things that aren't different at all, and some things that are different. After about 45 or 50 minutes in a meeting, these guys get fidgety and want to look at that iPhone. They've just got to check it. I think the coverage and the overall attention (span), that sometimes is more challenging.”
On how the media coverage and overall attention of the league makes it more challenging:
“It's not just fantasy. You have a receiver on your team, and maybe he has three catches for 68 yards and he's been averaging 110, and his Twitter blows up. These are little things that are pulling at the core of what you're trying to build as a team, selflessness.
“I think, back to, the topic of procurement of talent, if you're getting the right guy, he can handle that. There were other distractions in 2007, so we were still looking for that same guy. In other words, it hasn’t changed who we are looking for, but what's pulling at them sometimes has changed. We're still looking for the same guy.
“He's got the wherewithal to know, because you're going to hit a stretch of adversity. Every one of these teams playing in this postseason hits that point where you've got to pick yourself off the mat. You're going to be more successful or more apt to do that with those guys that are strong internally.”
On improving a defense that gave up the most passing touchdowns in a season in league history:
“When something like that happens, there are a lot of hands that are messy, starting with the head coach. But we've got to do a better job in the draft.”
On how much more he feels he can get out of
“I feel a lot. And I don't say that easily. I say that with conviction, only paying attention to what I'm seeing. A year ago he had an oblique injury and it affected him some. I don't see the attrition injury. I don't see…you know, what he had with his foot could've happened at 28. The way he prepares, and a lot of that is his athleticism and how he lives too.
“He's someone that is going to sleep, he's going to train and he's in great shape. I don't see that window, if you will, that end, and that's a good thing.”
On what he wants people to say about him when “all is said and done”:
“I think that, he was a winner and he was someone who cared about his players and coaches. No different than how much he cared about his children.
“Sometimes I think, as you're into this, the vision, you learn not to sweat some of the things that aren't as important. I know that for sure. You're a little wiser that way and you recognize, this is real important and this is not as important. You begin to keep a focus in a certain direction and not get distracted as easily.”