METAIRIE, La. -- Sean Payton’s Friday press conference before the NFC Championship Game was unusual in a good way.
PaytonLike a lot of coaches, Payton plays it close to the vest with the media and his press conferences are often dull. But this one wasn’t. In fact, Payton was, at various times, frank, funny and nostalgic. In other words, he opened up.
Payton even included some family stories and was particularly good talking about his arrival in 2006 at a time when the area still was devastated by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“Early on we were all staying right here at the hotel which is pretty common when you hire a staff,’’ Payton said. “Families haven't gotten here yet. It probably was late winter, early spring. My family was in town and I needed to get an antibiotic for my daughter and waited in line two hours at a Walgreen's. They had half a prescription of amoxicillin. In other words it was different. It was hard to explain if you weren't here. There were a lot of people that left. I can recall the first trip as a family driving here in June, there was a lot of traffic going the other direction, not much going in.”
Payton also talked about the new postgame tradition he’s started with his son. Payton’s been seen on the Superdome field playing with his son a couple of hours after recent games in the Superdome.
“Yeah, we try to after each game go down on the field -- win, lose or draw,’’ Payton said. “For your 9-year-old son, they look forward to that more than the game itself. It's just funny how sometimes you're always trying to maybe make up lost time that you have as a parent. So that has kind of been a constant, regardless how we finish. We're going to have a little touch game out there. It's grown now where you get 15 or 20 kids are out there playing on running around out on the field, and they enjoy that. It's a chance to really spend some quality time. Even if it's a half an hour, it's an important half an hour.
Payton also fired off a pretty good answer when talking about the importance of quarterback play in the postseason.
“I think it's critical,’’ Payton said. “I think when you look at the four teams remaining, New York's getting good play from their young quarterback. When you look at obviously the Colts and Peyton Manning, you look at the Vikings and Brett Favre. Go back to just the six NFC teams. I believe the six NFC teams all had Pro Bowl quarterbacks, Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, Tony Romo, Drew Brees. Who am I missing? Green Bay, (Aaron) Rodgers, Pro Bowl player. The teams that are winning are getting good play at that position. They handle the ball 65, 70 snaps a game. They can fly you safely to your destination or take you right into a mountain if you're not careful. So I think you've got to have good quarterback play.”
So what prompted Payton to be so gregarious? Maybe he’s feeling good about where his team is headed into Sunday’s NFC Championship Game and he's relaxed. Maybe he was just happy to be facing the media for the last time until after Sunday’s game. Or maybe it had something to do with this scathing column in which Mike Freeman rips Payton for the way he usually deals with the media. The column came out shortly before Payton's press conference.
Either way, we definitely saw another side of Payton, but I’m not sure it’s here to stay.