After taking a one-year hiatus, Sean Payton has returned to his coaching position in the NFL. Feeling recharged and re-energized, Payton still holds onto his mistrust for the league office at 345 Park Avenue. In an extensive profile by Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com, Payton shared his frustrations with the powers-that-be, particularly towards New York.
Payton’s cynicism towards New York stems from his experiences with the league office during his final months with the New Orleans Saints. He specifically had a complaint about the penalties called against the Saints’ opponents. A study of penalties committed against each team over a four-season period showed that the Saints consistently ranked near the bottom, with three out of the four seasons placing them in the 30th or 32nd spot. Payton believed that this statistical anomaly indicated a bias against the Saints, resulting in penalties not being called against their opponents.
When the Saints presented their findings to the league office, Payton claims there was no response. This lack of acknowledgement led him to suspect that Commissioner Roger Goodell may have played a role in the bias against the Saints. Payton does not believe Goodell purposely ordered unfair treatment towards the Saints, but rather that the aftermath of the bounty scandal in 2012 made the team an outcast. He theorizes that this animosity towards the Saints could have influenced the officiating department to turn a blind eye to fouls committed by their opponents.
The notion that the odds were stacked against the Saints took a toll on Payton. He expressed feelings of exhaustion and frustration, emphasizing that success or failure with the Saints is insignificant compared to the overall scope of the NFL. Payton’s comments about Goodell and the league office are surprising and carry more weight than his previous remarks about other coaches and teams. These statements have the potential to affect the Broncos, Payton’s current team, in future games.
It is uncertain whether Payton’s comments are a warning or a plea for change. He may be signaling to the league office and the officials that he will address any unfairness if the same trends from his years with the Saints continue with the Broncos. The NFL, especially in light of the legalization of gambling, could face significant controversy if data shows that the Broncos benefit from fewer penalties called against their opponents compared to other teams.
Nevertheless, Payton’s bold remarks demonstrate his determination and nerve. It remains to be seen how Goodell will respond, and if any further updates on the matter will be disclosed.