On January 25, 2022, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton announced he was stepping down from his role after 16 seasons.
Sean Payton announced he was stepping down as the head coach of the New Orleans Saints during a funny, moving and insightful 90-minute press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Here are 10 of the best comments from Payton:
- "So I like watching Netflix, I like watching TV shows I think you guys do as well. And it's Mardi Gras season. And I'm a kind of a "Ted Lasso" fan. And I do have a regret. Fifteen seasons, 16 years here and I've got like the best female owner in the world of sports. We don't do biscuits here in New Orleans. But we do king cake, so where's Mrs. B?"
- "Eight teams, nine teams, they're all searching for the right culture that everyone wants to know how. And it's very difficult (to create and) yet, if I was writing a book, I'd say it's also very simple. The alignment of ownership, your club president, your general manager, your head coach, right through your roster. That sounds easy. But like any relationship, they require work, right? I mean, that requires time and energy it requires a similar goal. It requires us all to kind of like lay down our arms and our egos for the best of the team. And if we ask that of our players, then certainly we have to ask that of our organization."
- "The point I'm making about Dennis (Lauscha) is it's like a good baseball team right up the middle from the catcher to the pitcher to the infield, (to) the outfield. We were always in concert. It didn't mean we always agreed but we were always in concert. And for a first-time head coach 16 years ago, that was important and more important now that I look back on it than I ever realized. And so I thank you and appreciate you. We had a lot of trips, we had fun trips, crazy trips, the very first year before we drafted Reggie Bush. We were out selling tickets and listening to '80s music and trying to figure out who knew the words and then when we drafted Reggie Bush we sold out and I'm like, Thank God we don't have to go on those like those frickin ticket bandwagon drives, we've been sold out ever since (laughter)."
- "When I met Mickey (Loomis), I thought, Man, I like this guy, he's got a heck of a task ahead of them. And I kept looking at my flip phone at the time waiting for that Green Bay area code to come in. And I got the message that evening that they had gone in a different direction. And I remember just throwing the phone into the pillow and thinking holy cow. And it was the best thing that happened. Sometimes, again, you don't have any control over that. And so he, he trusted his gut. And beyond just hiring me, we've had disagreements multiple times. And yet, we've always been in concert. And so like one of my biggest not concerns, but one of my biggest second thoughts was man, I don't want to not be around this really, really good friend of mine. That's not going to happen. I'm actually moving into another property here locally in but, but more than my general manager, more than the person that hired me more than all of those things, is, I would say, one of my best friends. And I appreciate that. I appreciate that. I could give you 1,000 stories, that would be interesting because our personalities are so different. Like he walks slow, it bothers me, I'm wanting to pick it up."
- "But I don't think any of us when we started, certainly I didn't, understood the dynamics and what took place post-Katrina, with that '06 season that I thought and I would argue is every bit as important as any other season that we've had here relative to where the city was. And it became much more; much, much bigger than football. And I'll talk about that in a little bit. But this fan base has been amazing. And you do this and you travel to cities. ... This is by far one of the most difficult places to play and unfortunately, we didn't win enough home games this year. But the fans are something else. It's not a wine and cheese crowd. People make decisions to buy season tickets here that goes into their budget relative to what other things they're choosing to do. We appreciate all of that. I can. I have a really good memory and can remember back in '06 when we drafted Reggie Bush and we drafted the rest of that class and the excitement level. I don't have an (exact recollection of) history. Tulane Stadium, Jeff (Duncan), I'm guessing held 70,000-something people. I don't know (exactly). But I've met 110,000 people they told me that they were there for that game and the (John Gilliam) kick return (for a touchdown) over the years. And the passion that has been handed down generationally is unbelievable. Because when you're a young kid you root for who your dad or mom root for. You don't know (who to root for). And so the amount of stories post '09 season, where (for example a) grandparent wasn't alive to see a Super Bowl. But they were. All of that just makes what we do fulfilling, pretty special. We're teachers but that's unique. And I don't know that any player back then when we signed on, or any coach myself included. knew quite actually what we were getting into. And that's the truth. So thank you, city of New Orleans, our fans. I'll be honest when I hear the Bengals and I'm rooting kind of for Cincinnati a little bit in the postseason, but the Who Dey thing that came after (Who Dat)."
- "I don't know if any of you remember the movie "Jerry Maguire," there's a scene in that movie where Tom Cruise is in an office building. He shouts out who's coming with me and he grabs a goldfish. And Renee Zellweger says, I'll come. And they began a journey. In 2006, 16 years ago. It kind of felt that way at that time. There's a special spot in my heart for the coaches, the staff, the players, everyone who came when 90 percent of the cars were leaving, I can remember the traffic on I-10. And there was no traffic heading south but all of it was going north. ... And so I appreciate that group of coaches and that team and I still say to this day in '06, we've had a lot of teams probably teams that are better, but none tougher than that '06. None tougher than that '06 team. And that leads me back to that whole city rebirth and fan base, and people that's when I grew to know like, holy cow, this is bigger. This is bigger than anything…This is more than just football. I didn't know how to eat a crawfish at that time. I was kind of on the beignets, the king cakes with cream cheese, a number of things, but everyone wanted to know hey, how do you like it here? And honestly in your first year, when you're not from here, you're figuring it out."
- "It's a people business. And the thing that I'm most proud of, is, collectively, in scouting Jeff (Ireland), in your group, and everyone involved in the procurement process, we've consistently found the right people that fit what we're trying to build. I'm not able to mention every player's name. But I am able to thank every player today. I can't hit on every coach, my current staff, I just in a staff meeting told them our record was 9-8, and we didn't get in the playoffs. We're rooting against the Rams right now because of that (laughter). But I'm proud of the job they did. This year, it was extraordinary. So for every coach who's been here, every scout, every staff member, the people that take care of the facilities, the equipment guys, security, the last word I wrote down is the building and I've heard that, that saying it takes a village. And honestly, it takes a building to be successful. Not one year, but it takes a building to be successful."
- "The question is, how do I want to be remembered? As someone who had passion and someone that cared a lot. Winning is important in that, it's important in that. I thought about my mom, if she were alive today, two things I wore this shirt because she always said you have to wear this color (that) matches your eyes. She'd be in her 90s today. Her and my dad are both passed away. But they'd talk all the time about like leaving a place maybe better than when you got there to begin with. And I think we've done that. And it's not finished. We've got all these coaches that are sitting here with contracts and Mickey (Loomis) and the leadership in place to continue that. But yeah, we're not writing an obituary today. It's a step. Just another direction."
- "What will I miss most I'll miss the people. There's a feeling when something happens in a game. And you watch one of your players do something and grow that any teacher I think would tell you is awfully rewarding. Regardless of whether he's a starter, a backup, or a practice squad player, but to see them improve or get better and do something extraordinary men. So the relationships and then you know the teaching part of it?"
- "All of us, we all get comfortable with certain things, right? We get comfortable in certain shoes, you know, you don't know it until your better half tells you you're going to wear that again? And you realize that it's on like a four-day rotation instead of a 12-day rotation, we get comfortable in our jobs, we get comfortable in our relationships, we get comfortable. And every once in a while, and I think this probably plays a big part of it…It's you don't want to have a regret relative to another challenge or another (opportunity). Retirement, I don't think is the right word today."