A Firestorm Ignites in the NFL
In the wake of his recent interview with USA Today, Denver Broncos’ first-year coach, Sean Payton, has come forward to apologize for the controversial remarks he made about former Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett. Payton, known for his candidness as an NFL studio analyst last season, expressed regret for his comments during the first practice of training camp at Centura Health Training Center.
It was a mistake,” Admits Sean Payton”
It was a mistake,” Payton admitted, recognizing the firestorm his words had created in the NFL community. In the interview published on Thursday, Payton had labeled Hackett’s coaching job last season as possibly “one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL.”
Hackett’s Short Stint with the Broncos
Nathaniel Hackett served as the Broncos’ coach for only one season, finishing with a 4-11 record before being dismissed with two games remaining in a 5-12 campaign. Payton took over as head coach in February.
Unfavorable Remarks Extend to the New York Jets
In addition to his comments about Hackett, Payton also made remarks about the New York Jets, where Hackett is currently the offensive coordinator. This drew the attention of Jets coach Robert Saleh. Furthermore, Payton made unflattering references regarding certain individuals in the Broncos’ front office and their handling of Russell Wilson during what was a tumultuous debut season for the star quarterback with the team.
Fox Hat vs. Coaching Hat
Payton reflected on his past role as a Fox NFL studio analyst, saying, “I had one of those moments where I still had my Fox hat on and not my coaching hat on.” He addressed the team, emphasizing that he had been preaching the importance of avoiding media distractions during the offseason, and yet, he found himself being the cause of one.
Regret and Accountability
Acknowledging his mistake, Payton expressed that he needed to be more mindful and exercise restraint. He recognized the responsibility he holds as a coach to protect and support his players. He attributed the incident to getting carried away while talking to USA Today reporter Jarrett Bell, whom he referred to as “a good friend” and “real good at his job.”
Defending Russell Wilson
Payton revealed that he had consumed two lattes on the morning of the interview and, within 40 minutes, found himself regretting what he had said. The majority of his comments were in defense of Russell Wilson, who struggled after being acquired from the Seattle Seahawks, where he was a nine-time Pro Bowler. Wilson signed a massive five-year, $245 million contract extension with Denver before his challenging season.
Respect and Admiration
While Sean Payton clarified that his comments were indeed in defense of Russell Wilson, the quarterback was diplomatic in his response, expressing respect and admiration for Coach Payton.
Media Attention and Its Impact
The interview also touched on how the Broncos were affected by the media attention surrounding Wilson’s arrival last season and suggested that the Jets might face a similar situation this year after acquiring quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the offseason. Jets coach Robert Saleh brushed off Payton’s comments, remarking, “If you ain’t got no haters, you ain’t popping. So hate away.” Saleh praised Hackett for doing a phenomenal job with the Jets.
Reaching Out to Saleh and Hackett
Payton intends to reach out to Saleh and Hackett at the appropriate time to address the situation personally.
Clarifying Statements on Broncos Front Office
Regarding his statements about Broncos general manager George Paton and president Damani Leech, Payton clarified that his relationship with them and the front office remains positive. He explained that his comments were meant to criticize the organizational aspects of last season rather than individuals.
The High Expectations Continue
Despite the controversy, Payton has not backed down from his expectations for the team. He remains determined to lead the Broncos to the playoffs, embracing the challenge and emphasizing the importance of a winning mindset within the organization.
Conclusion: A Coach’s Apology and Renewed Focus
In conclusion, Sean Payton has taken responsibility for his candid remarks and extended an apology for any unintended consequences of his words. As the Broncos embark on a new season, Coach Payton aims to foster a supportive environment for his players and guide the team to success on the field.