I don’t pretend to know the details of Sean Payton’s personal life. I don’t know what’s true and what’s false. I do know this: I feel for the man. Has he made mistakes? Sure. We all have. But right now he’s going through a low point in his life probably unlike any other.
Payton was at the top of his game in 2009, leading the Saints to a Super Bowl win over the favored Indianapolis Colts. He achieved fame and fortune, rode in Orpheus, wrote a best-selling book and owned this city. Payton has been besieged with negative press ever since. Shortly after the Super Bowl win, he was implicated in an alleged Vicodin theft scandal, then moved his family to Dallas amid rumors of marital problems and was suspended for the 2012 season for his part in the Saints bounty program. And don’t forget Payton tearing the MCL and fracturing the tibia in his left leg after getting steamrolled by tight end Jimmy Graham during a loss to Tampa Bay last season.
Now this is Payton’s reality: He has moved out of the Dallas-area home he shared with his family, he can’t coach the Saints and allow this season to serve as a much-needed distraction and he can’t talk to or have contact with any of his closest friends in the NFL. He only has time to dwell on what has transpired.
A man who reached the pinnacle of his profession less than three years ago is in the midst of a precipitous and very public free fall. Behind all the bravado, cockiness and rebellious behavior is just a guy who has been through a hell of a lot in a very short period of time. Saints fans will stand behind the coach who brought them their first Lombardi Trophy, but as Payton tries to rebuild his personal and professional lives, let’s hope this is the end of the bad news.