A lot of football fans know the family-friendly “Home Team” movie is based on Sean Payton’s year away from the NFL when he served his suspension for BountyGate.
But the better story on that year comes from Payton’s daughter, in a 5-minute documentary on YouTube, “Cutting Oranges,” where he coaches his son’s sixth-grade football team.
We all know a certain ego is required among players and coaches if they’re going to survive and be successful in the NFL.
But a certain level of humility is also required. Because without that balance, you’ll never realize your full potential to improve.
During that year coaching sixth-grade football, Payton learned - or was more likely reminded - that he knew a lot but didn’t know everything.
“I think he’s going to take this team and put it in the best position to win."— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) February 7, 2023
Owner & CEO Greg Penner and HC @SeanPayton on how the Broncos will build a new culture: pic.twitter.com/JOqncbRrzx
He did, however, know how to work out an answer - whether it was spending more time in film breakdown, or asking other coaches, or figuring it out on the field with players.
So when his sixth-grade team started off hot, beating teams by so much they’d turn the scoreboard off, and then got its a** handed to it by another team, Payton was not afraid to admit he didn’t know what to do against a team running an old concept - the “single wing offense.”
Instead, he called Bill Parcells and Jon Gruden for help.
It didn’t actually work. After losing to the Springtown Orange Porcupines 38-6 in the regular season, the Warriors lost the championship game 58-18.
But after the game, Payton spoke to both teams, praising his son and his team for giving him the best year in coaching he’d ever had. And he offered props to the one offense that confounded them all season.
“We spent all week, we talked to Bill Parcells and Jon Gruden and asked them how to defend the single wing,” said Payton. “You have no idea how much time we spent. You guys put 58 points on the board.”
It’s already cool that Payton would spend that year coaching sixth-grade football - even if it was his son’s team.
But the trouble he went to in order to prepare a bunch of 12-year-old boys is the most impressive.
Yeah, this is the guy we need.
And if he’s willing to do that for sixth-graders, imagine what he’s willing to do for an NFL franchise paying him specifically to turn things around?
Excited to go to work! https://t.co/oKv5e5g44I— Justin Simmons (@jsimms1119) February 6, 2023
Former Saints offensive lineman Jon Stinchcomb talked with The Athletic this week about Payton’s arrival to New Orleans in 2006:
“The overriding message was, ‘You’re either with us or you’re not,’” Stinchcomb said. “It was pretty quick for some folks. We had some veterans who had signed free-agent deals in New Orleans and chose retirement in the middle of training camp instead of enduring the recalibration that was happening.”
Now Payton has to do about the same with a team that unraveled game after game on national television last season. One of the most penalized in the NFL, the Broncos proved to be undisciplined, without accountability at multiple levels, and lacking any offensive identity.
Former players who talked to The Athletic believe their former coach, who signed a five-year deal with the Broncos last week, is the answer for this once-proud franchise.
Lance Moore, former wide receiver for Payton from 2006-2013, says there is no better coach for details than Patyon.
And lord knows, this team needs to start paying attention to some details.
“He’s tireless in the way he gets people prepared,” Moore said. “He’s a no-stone-unturned guy. If there is an opportunity to get some reps, physical or mental, he’s going to get them. He’s not going to let something go unaddressed in practice. We started tons of periods over, tons of plays over. He’s not OK with something that doesn’t look the way it should. He’s fanatical about it in almost a savant-like way.”
Yeah, this is certainly the guy we need.
The contrast between Payton’s introductory press conference and the one the Broncos celebrated a year ago when naming Nathaniel Hackett was obvious. The high-energy guy was not there. The lets-get-down-to-f***-in-business guy was.
Payton referenced Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells in his presser, saying there’s a certain “law and order” you have to instill.
“There’s a certain unselfishness to being a part of a team,” Payton said. “You come in with your standards, but you’re not coming in indicting anyone else’s. You are just coming in with, ‘This is how we’re going to teach; this is how we’re going to meet, and this is how we’re going to practice.’”
Payton was asked to provide an example of his attention to detail. It’s in the towels, he noted, mentioning that even the towels provided to fans in the seats had to be good quality, not like “the napkins you get after you’ve had seafood.”
“If we are maniacal with the details on the field, then we have to be that way in every other element—the training room, the weight room, how we approach ticket sales. Everything matters,” he said. “You can’t just say, ‘Oh, it’s only this that’s important.’ Everything matters. How we traveled. How we celebrated in the locker room. We brought a $30,000-dollar stereo system—Club Dub. We thought it was important, especially on the road, that everyone could hear our locker room celebrating and say, ‘What is going on in there?’ That is creating culture. With the right people, and with the details—I can go on and on.”
Payton even proved this competitive and detailed nature during his TV gig this past year.
Peter Schrager, NFL insider who worked with Payton on FOX, noted it stood out immediately.
Payton insisted the crew go out to dinner the night before shows, highlighting the need for chemistry. The coach also insisted on knowing producers’ names and their kids’ names.
“He wanted culture. He wanted camaraderie. He wanted friendship. And he wanted a scoreboard,” Schrager wrote. “Again, we love our show and are proud of the work we do on FOX NFL Kickoff. But Coach Payton wanted to know ratings. He wanted to know how we were faring against ESPN; which segments were working and which weren’t hitting quite as well. Coach Payton might have been a rookie in the TV world, but he was a competitor through and through. If he was going to invest his time into the show and the people on it, he wanted it to be the best it possibly could be.”
Yeah, this is definitely the guy we need.
"The No. 1 job is to find out, what do players do well and let's put them in those positions to emphasize strengths...none of us wants to be at a karaoke bar with a song we don't know the words to." - @SeanPayton on helping @DangeRussWilson get back to his productive play.— Doctor of Words (and tights) (@docllv) February 6, 2023
And of course a huge part of the change will be in making the quarterback good again. And that will probably start with some internal changes.
Payton was asked about Russell Wilson continuing to have “Team 3” in the building, including his personal QB coach Jake Heaps.
“I’m not too familiar with that,’’ Payton said. “That’s foreign to me — that’s not going to take place. I’m unfamiliar with it. Our staff will be here, our players will be here and that will be it.’’
Yeah, absolutely the guy we need.
Excited to get to work. Fired Up!— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) February 6, 2023
Congrats Coach @SeanPayton @Broncos https://t.co/DwI6DG2xXa
Broncos/Sean Payton News (the rest doesn’t count today)
What drew Sean Payton to the Broncos — and why he's perfect for job | FOX Sports
Peter Schrager worked with Sean Payton on FOX broadcasts throughout this season. He tells you why Payton decided to become the Broncos coach, as well as why he could help QB Russell Wilson.
Sean Payton plans to change Broncos' culture with a laser focus on details | Denver Broncos | denvergazette.com
For Sean Payton, who was officially introduced as the Broncos' coach Monday, every detail matters — from the orange tie he wore two Sundays ago on FOX that hinted he
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