NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — After more than a decade as the Saints head coach, Sean Payton will not return to New Orleans for the 2022 NFL season.
Payton made the announcement at a press conference at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
“I don’t know what’s next,” admitted Payton. “I have not spoken to anyone from a media outlet relative to doing television or radio. Maybe that opportunity arises, but every time I read something that says he is in line for this job, I call my agent Don [Yee]and say ‘Don, did you hear something, but I have not heard anything?’
“I think I’d like to do that. I think I’d be pretty good at it.”
Payton continued by saying he has not ruled out a return to coaching.
“I don’t like the word retirement. Mr. [Tom Benson] didn’t like it either,” Payton said. “I still have a vision for doing things in football, and I’ll be honest with you, that might be coaching again, at some point. I don’t think it’s this year. I think maybe in the future. But that’s not where my heart is right now – it’s not at all.”
The news comes just two weeks after the Saints were eliminated from the playoffs. Ian Rappoport, with the NFL Network, took to social media to make the announcement.
“We don’t know. Who knows? We’ll find out soon enough I guess. I don’t think any of us know, but he will let us know soon enough.” This was the response from New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson at her press event early Monday afternoon in regards to rumors surrounding Payton’s future with the team.
On Tuesday, Benson along with the entire ‘Who Dat Nation’ learned Payton’s decision. When asked why now, the 58-year-old said it was time to move on.
“I felt the time was right for me,” said Payton, who admitted the decision to leave crossed his mine in training camp prior to the 2021-22 season. “I have lost a few close friends in the industry the last two or three years. And also, forget football. There’s other things. There are a lot of sacrifices you make.
“Not many get to chose their terms, and I looked at it as an opportunity also to see my kids more, to travel more, get in better shape,” he continued. “So, I felt as this season was winding down that it was the right thing.”
Regarding his 16 years (15 seasons) with the Saints, Payton spoke highly of the ‘Who Dat Nation.’
“This fan base has been amazing,” said Payton, who proclaimed New Orleans as by far “one of the most difficult places to play.”
In summation of a one-hour-plus presser, Payton reiterated his refusal to use the ‘R-word’ and his overall appreciation to the organization and fan base for his time in New Orleans.
“Retirement, I don’t think is the right word today,” he said. “Thank you for giving me this opportunity to be your head coach for 16 years.”
Watch the entire press conference below: