Tuesday, January 16, 2007

NFC Playoff coach’s corner: Sean Payton

Instead of flooding the market with “previews,” or rambling on incessantly about “facts,” I’ve decided instead to delve into the NFL Playoffs by fake interviewing a few of the big-name coaches who will be prominently involved. Coaches, after all, are very important, because they make a lot of money, and are crucial to the success of their respective football team. Without coaches, armies of helmeted men would all be aimlessly wandering the streets, wondering what time it was, and how they got there. In that respect, we’re going to sit down with a very important coach to discuss the upcoming weekend of the NFL Playoffs. This week’s imaginary participant: New Orleans Saints’ head coach Sean Payton.

Me: Coach Payton, thanks so much for stopping by.

Payton: My pleasure.

Me: I realize we’re in the middle of the playoffs right now, which may not be the opportune time to bring up individual awards, but…you won an individual award this season, did you not? The “Greatest Football Coach Ever Since Jim Haslet Award.” Fairly prestigious, no?

Payton: You’re too kind. I was honored to receive the “Coach of the Year” award this season.

Me: You received 44 out of a possible 50 votes, with another first-year head coach – Eric Mangini – coming in second with a measly three votes, which is just pathetic, and only three more than Art Shell received. Did Mangini eat his way out of contention?

Payton: I don’t think girth falls under the criteria for the award. Eric is a great coach.

Me: So let me get this straight. Mangini has the gall to coach well in the same league that you coach in – what an idiot! – so you beat him 44-3 in COY voting. You beat Parcells – your one-time mentor – and the Cowboys 42-17. And you beat the Giants – where you spent some time as an assistant under Jim “My Assistant Can Coach Circles Around Me” Fassel – 30-7. Is it fair to say that anyone who falls under your general wrath should prepare themselves for some sort of public embarrassment in the near future?

Payton: I was never really looking for revenge on anyone, we were just fortunate enough to play so well during those games. I owe a lot of my professional success to Bill and the Giants organization.

Me: So, when you leave the Saints, how badly are you going to destroy them for screwing you over?

Payton: I have no plans to leave the New Orleans Saints.

Me: You’re starting to sound a little bit like Nick Saban. Call me crazy, but I’m not going to sit here and take a head coach’s word for it. Prove to me that you will never leave the Saints. Right now. Prove it. Do it.

Payton: All right, but you asked for it…

Me: What…what the heck are you doing? Why are you…why are you pulling your pants down? What the hell is going on? Please get your ass out of my face…Wait, what is - Is that a…a Fleur de Lis tattoo? Two Fleur de Lis tattoos?! One for each cheek? Wow…I stand corrected.

Payton: These things don’t come off so easily, ya’ know?

Me: Yeah, tell that to the Marvin the Martian tattoo I got on my inner thigh back in college. Stupid gin & tonics.

Payton: I hear ya’.

Me: Okay, so we’ve established that you’re definitely committed to this organization. Next question: Prove it.

Payton: Didn’t we just…

Me: Wait, wait…my fault, my bad. I forgot we went through this already. Forgot about the tat. Sorry about that. What the heck was my next question? Oh – Reggie Bush! You guys drafted Reggie Bush. Prove it.

Payton: Ummm, he’s on our roster? He plays every single week? He’s got a uniform and everything…

Me: I’m sorry, I’m sorry…I’m all mixed up over here. What I wanted to ask you was…When the Texans drafted Mario Williams instead of Reggie Bush, did you have a non-sexual orgasm? I’m pretty sure I would have, in that situation.

Payton: We were very excited.

Me: Besides Reggie Bush, much ado has been made about the turnover from last season’s team. The only people you’ve kept from the 2005 New Orleans Saints are Deuce McAllister and one of the concession stand workers, and that’s only because that dude is Deuce McAllister’s cousin or something. What about the whole Jim Haslet/Aaron Brooks era screamed, “Maybe we should start over?” Was it the losing? I’ll bet you it was the losing.

Payton: Sure, the losing had a lot to do with it. There was a culture of failure around here, and we had to come in and change that.

Me: A big part of that change was bringing in quarterback Drew Brees. In the offseason, you had your choice between Brees and Daunte Culpepper, who were both coming off serious injuries. How difficult was it to choose between a crippled yet consistent winning QB, and a crippled one-year wonder who played a starring role in a sex-boat drama? I’m sure you agonized over that one for like, minutes.

Payton: We liked Drew from the start, and to say that decision has worked out well is an understatement.

Me: You just gave me an idea. Let’s play the understatement game. I’ll go first, and then you respond with another understatement. Replacing Aaron Brooks with Drew Brees was a moderate upgrade.

Payton: Ahem…I agree. Because passing the football forward is often more productive than passing it backwards. Okay, okay, my turn. This interview is lacking in substantiated dialogue.

Me: Okaaay…ummm…That is because my subject is as bland as James Blunt eating an unsalted cracker.

Payton: That seemed like an overstatement to me.

Me: Whatever. I don’t want to play this game anymore. Let’s move on. Coach, the entire free world, including South Dakota, is pulling for the New Orleans Saints this year. Not only is your team almost as likeable as the New York Giants, but the Saints have also come to represent the resolve that the city of New Orleans has shown in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That is some serious stuff, right there. Are you concerned about letting the entire free world down by not winning your next football game?

Payton: See, I think the New Orleans Saints are already a great story, no matter what happens the rest of the way. We went from 3-13 to 10-6, and we’ve laid the foundation of a great team for years to come. We don’t need to win the Super Bowl to feel vindicated.

Me: Hmmm, seems like a cop-out to me. Now, I’m not usually one to delve into politics, but let me ask you this: Which Bush has done more for the city of New Orleans – Reggie, Gavin Rossdale, or George W?

Payton: That’s easy. Reggie. He’s embraced this city from Day One, which is more than I can say for the prez. And I’m pretty sure Gavin Rossdale started a new band or something. Sellout.

Me: Coach, look me in the eyes as I say this: The New Orleans Saints are playing in the NFC Championship Game this weekend, for a right to go to the Super Bowl.

Payton: …now what?

Me: You were supposed to react dramatically to that statement, and say something like, “Wow, it never really sunk in until hearing you say that. Really, this is a dream come true…Somebody pinch me!” And then I would pinch you, confirm that you’re real, and then turn to the camera and say, “It’s not a dream, folks. Chuck & Dottie, back to you in the studio.” Have you ever been interviewed before?

Payton: But there aren’t any cameras here. And who are Chuck & Dotty?

Me: Whatever, it doesn’t matter now. You ruined it.

Payton: Sorry.

Me: Good luck this weekend, Coach. The free world is pulling for you. If I were you, I’d pretend that I used to coach the Bears.

Payton: Ya’ know what? I did have a bad travel experience in Chicago once…

Me: Uh, oh…I smell a blowout.


Hmmm...Brees does look good, but Culpepper DID purify the waters of Lake Minnetonka. Ah, screw it - we're going with Brees.

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