Sean Payton interested in return to NFL coaching: ‘the right situation’

Many pro athletes get the itch to get back on the field after retirement — and some do.

It’s no different with a coach. Just ask Sean Payton.

Payton, who worked for Fox Sports this season after stepping down from his coaching job with the New Orleans Saints in January, said he would be interested in an NFL head coaching return in 2023 if “the situation is right.”

“If the right situation presented itself, I would definitely be interested,” Payton said on the NewOrleans.Football podcast, which aired Wednesday. “And there is no utopia, if you want, when it comes to the team, but if I feel the situation is right, I will be interested. All that said, it could happen in a year, maybe in two years.

Payton, who led the Saints to a Super Bowl title with a 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV, has a career record of 152-89 (.631 winning percentage), excluding a season-long suspension in 2012. He owns the playoff record 9-8. The Saints, who are off to a 1-1 start, hired Dennis Allen, who was Payton’s defensive coordinator, as their next head coach.

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Sean Payton
Sean Payton

Payton, 58, said he needs to share the same vision with team ownership and the front office.

“The most important element is functional ownership [and] because there are some teams that are not there, and those teams, regardless of what happens, they can win on Sunday but they have problems to win long-term,” he said. “The opportunity to win consistently and the will to build the right culture and everything that.”

Payton, who was New Orleans’ head coach for 16 seasons, will have two seasons left on his Saints contract after the 2022 season. That means if he were to take an NFL coaching job next season, his new team would have to compensate the Saints.

Payton said he was enjoying the Fox Sports gig, but felt pulled back to the sidelines while watching the Saints-Buccaneers Week 2 game, won 20-10 by Tampa Bay.

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“This weekend’s game against Tampa was the first time I had my version of FOMO [fear of missing out],” he said. “I’m jealous of everyone there, including Bruce Arians randomly on the sidelines.”

Arians, 69, who stepped down as the Buccaneers’ head coach before the season to become a senior assistant to general manager Jason Licht, was on the sidelines of Sunday’s game and received a warning from the NFL for his actions.

Payton says working in television allows him to recharge his batteries, as he did in 2012 when he was suspended for the season by the NFL as a result of the league’s bounty investigation. The film “Home Team” – starring Kevin James – is based on Payton’s life coaching his son’s football team during a one-year ban.

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“I hope so, I’m sure of it [time away from the game] do the same thing,” Payton said.

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