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New Orleans Saints training camp preview: Coach Sean Payton

In the last three seasons the Saints have the most regular season wins (37)

Sean Payton dropped a diss track.

It was a retaliatory move, after a rookie had the audacity to call out the New Orleans Saints' head coach in a rap. And if it was recorded for posterity, so far, it hasn't received enough oxygen to air in any medium. But there are witnesses.

"Man, when I tell you Coach Payton came back with the greatest diss track ever," All-Pro linebacker Demario Davissaid, laughing and smiling, as he recounted the story on The Lefkoe Show. "I mean, stood up on the table and slaughtered the man.

"(Payton) just gets it."

The fact that Payton used his skill, rather than his position, to respond is one of the reasons that Payton is invited to the family reunion, Davis said. (Footnote: No need to ask about the family reunion/cookout – if you know, you know.)

Also, Sean Payton is an expert at tossing subtle jabs.

"I'm liking this Florida @TomBrady right now," he tweeted on May 24, during a celebrity golf match in which Brady, the newly-minted Tampa Bay starting quarterback, was having a tough time of it on the course.

Too, Sean Payton is a champion of social justice, unashamedly vocal when it comes to sharing his thoughts on inequality and police brutality.

"Were Murdered not Killed on Video," he tweeted on June 2, words that accompanied the photos of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, two Black men whose deaths were among the deaths of several Black men and women that sparked ongoing protests and calls for justice.

And, Sean Payton is the coach who oversaw, arguably, one of the most brutal training camps ever witnessed in 2006 at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. And the coach who moved training camp to White Sulpher Springs, W.Va., from 2014-16, to avoid the stifling South Louisiana heat and lessen the possibility of soft tissue injuries, and ensure that the maximum amount of work could be done. And, when the Saints returned home for training camp, the coach who approved the use of cooling trucks – essentially, refrigerated shipping containers – on site during training camp at the team's facility in Metairie to make sure players could cool down during practice.

Mix that together and add more, and it comprises why Sean Payton, entering his 15th season with the Saints, currently is the second-longest tenured coach in the NFL, trailing only New England's Bill Belichick (entering his 21st season).

The 56-year-old adapts to the times and to his players, willing to figure out new ways to bond with 20-somethings, institute new recovery methods, renovate the locker room to make it more player-friendly, work with nutritionists to provide the best food options, and keep available every option until he and his staff best know how to use a player's skills.

The results speak in his favor.

Payton has a 131-77 regular-season record in 13 seasons as head coach, far and away the most wins in franchise history. He's 8-7 in the playoffs, including a win in Super Bowl XLIV.

In the last three seasons, the Saints have won three consecutive NFC South Division titles – the only time in franchise history the team has accomplished the feat – and 37 regular-season games, most in the NFL (New England is second, with 36).

The only two times the franchise has had three consecutive seasons of 11-plus victories have been under Payton (2017-19, and 2009-11), and he has been the head coach for all three appearances the franchise has made in the NFC Championship Game – '06, '09 and '18.

Nine times, the Saints have been in NFL's top five scoring offenses during his tenure and 11 times, they've been top five in yards per game. And New Orleans has become a choice destination for free agents.

"This offense," free agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders said about joining the Saints. "I'm excited about playing in this offense. I'm excited about playing with (quarterback) Drew Brees, and Sean Payton, and (receiver) Michael Thomas.

Payton hasn't had all the answers all the time – he has four seven-win seasons on his resume – but he has been flexible enough and progressive enough to find solutions, and to stay connected to his players on and off the field.

"I couldn't be more proud to be a part of the organization and to represent it," said former right tackle Jon Stinchcomb, a Saint from 2003-10. "I don't know that that's always been the case for former players that had a fleur-de-lis on the side of their helmet. It's not always been a situation where you would want to be boastful that you're a part of that organization.

"I live in Atlanta now, and I can't tell you how many times I harass the Dirty Birds in my area that want to chirp and have things to say. But New Orleans has become an organization that has changed their national image. So much credit, in my mind, goes to (late owner) Mr. (Tom) Benson, and (Executive Vice President and General Manager) Mickey Loomis, and Sean Payton and that entire staff."

Stinchcomb joked about the price paid by the players who helped lay the foundation for the Saints' success since 2006.

"It took its toll on those of us who were around in that 2006 season, because they had to create a new culture," he said. "And that's a difficult proposition for any organization, and for those that had to suffer through that training camp at Milsaps, it was brutal. It took years off our life. The coaches can joke about it now, but I still don't think it's funny. It was six weeks of torture ...

"But it definitely was for the benefit of the organization. You look back and you look at the way this team has competed and stayed at the top – there was a little lull for a couple of years – but aside from that, what New Orleans has been able to do on an annual basis is really impressive.

"We're still that one Super Bowl away from being that perennial, New England Patriots-type team that stays at the top. But I think it's a real different New Orleans Saints organization and perspective and image today than what it was in 2003, when my name was called on draft day. It's just commendable what they've been able to do."

What Payton has been able to do, is adapt and adjust to help keep the Saints relevant.

And, along the way, to find time to drop a diss track when warranted.

New Orleans Saints photos of Head Coach Sean Payton through the years.

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