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End of an Era: Sean Payton Steps Down as Head Coach

(Image credit John Sigler/USA Today Sports)

Written by: Nicholas Mullick

It was a normal day Tuesday and I was about to write about the Chicago Bears' new hire of their GM Ryan Poles. Then news came out where Sean Payton decided to step down as the Head Coach for the New Orlean Saints. I was shocked when this news came out. There was a lot of speculation that something was going on after the Saints had meetings with Sean Payton and I thought it was just a regular meeting discussing how the Saints had a good season even with the struggles with injuries and inconsistency at the QB position. But it turns out those talks involved Sean Payton stepping down as the Head Coach of the New Orleans Saints.

It is another end of an Era for the New Orleans Saints as he has held this role for 16 years. Sean Payton started coaching for the Saints in 2006. He had a spectacular run where he had 7 NFC Title wins and won a Super Bowl against Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts. That was the big highlight in Sean Payton’s career which was winning that Superbowl as it was the first in the New Orlean Saints franchise. Now in my opinion Sean Payton should have two Super Bowl rings right now but didn’t due to the disgraceful NFC 2018 Championship matchup against the Los Angeles Rams but that is a different story for another article.

But while I have talked about his spectacular run you can not mention Sean Payton and his tenure in the NFL without mentioning the darker side of his coaching career. That dark side is when the Bounty Scandal occurred. So what happened was that the bounty scandal involved both Saints players and coaches making a pool where they would pay players for injuring opposing players and taking them out of the football game. Now, this all came out after the 2009 playoff game when multiple targeting hits were made to QB Brett Farve. As it turned out due to further investigation, around 22, maybe 27 different players participated in this bounty. Plus it was put in place by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and had been a system implemented for many years since Williams was hired. Then this makes Sean Payton look worse because later it came out that he had knowledge that this system was going on (which is not surprising), then it was discovered that Payton tried to cover it up when the NFL started to look into it. That is something that should not be ignored, it is something that everyone needs to be reminded of. Now Sean Payton did not participate in the funding of this program but he knew that this was going on and tried to cover it up. As a result, both Williams and Payton were suspended for one season, GM Mickey Lumis was suspended half the season, Joe Vitt another coach was suspended 6 games, many players were suspended, Lost multiple draft picks and a fine of 500,000 was put on the Saints organization. This scandal was a black eye for the NFL, New Orlean Saints, Gregg Williams, and Sean Payton.

But the New Orleans Saints decided to keep Payton as the head coach and he continued coaching until the end of the 2021 NFL Season. Now the 58-year-old has decided to step away from his role as the coach. Now there is always the possibility that Sean Payton decides to return and coach in the NFL. But if this is it I will say enjoy retirement Sean Payton as you had an absolutely great coaching career in the NFL despite the Bountygate Scandal.

So what is next for the New Orlean Saints? Well, I would say blow it up. Especially as the Saints are currently 71 million dollars under the salary cap, and the team will not be winning with the current core that they have now. This is going to be a multi-year process and many faces on the team will be gone. Who should the Saints hire as coach? Honestly, I would pull a move that is common with the Pittsburgh Steelers organization and promote from within. For the New Orlean Saints, I would promote defensive coordinator Dennis Allen as head coach. I mean Allen does have head coaching experience during his tenure with the Raiders when they were in Oakland. Even though it was a bad tenure this decision by Sean Payton was kind of a late one so I would promote Dennis Allen.



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