So this is interesting. Sean Payton is taking a turn to the media after stepping down as New Orleans Saints head coach earlier this year, and after initial speculation that he’d be taking an in-game commentator role he’s now clarifying that he expects to work in-studio, likely on a panel with other former coaches and players.
Payton shared the news after participating in the Zurich Classic celebrity shootout event this week, telling the Athletic’s Katherine Terrell of whether he’s landed a media job: “I think so, I just don’t want to be the one that puts my foot in my mouth before the company does. But it is. Soon. Probably a studio job.”
That makes sense; Payton’s first blush with working on the other side was on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown pregame show a couple years ago, working on a studio panel with his peers. He’s run a gauntlet of radio and podcast appearances over recent months to get more comfortable in media. He doesn’t have much experience calling games or sharing live commentary, so this could be his best path forwards.
And while there has been even more speculation about Payton’s coaching future (specifically when he’ll return to the NFL, and which team will trade the Saints a king’s ransom for his contract rights), it’s very possible he likes this job well enough to stick with it. That’s what happened with Bill Cowher. The legendary Pittsburgh Steelers coach stepped down after a 15-year run featuring a 161-99-1 record (including the playoffs), a Super Bowl XL ring, and before his fiftieth birthday. He’s remained a fixture at CBS ever since.
Compare that to Payton, who resigned after turning 58 with a 161-97 record and a Super Bowl XLIV title to his credit. Obviously these are two different people with different perspectives and goals, but they have each accomplished similar resumes. We’ll just have to wait and see which network brings Payton into the fold and whether they can keep him there.