NFL fans already knew the disdain Sean Payton had for how the Denver Broncos were run by previous head coach Nathaniel Hackett in 2022. But a new report makes it clear that Payton is heavily invested in turning the page — however possible.
According to ESPN, Payton used a striking visual to get his team to move on from their dismal 2022 — by showing a video of a 2022 Ford Bronco driving off a cliff.
He then had some harsh words for Russell Wilson, the former perennial Pro Bowl quarterback who massively disappointed in his first year in Denver and whose career Payton was brought in to resuscitate.
“Will you f—ing stop kissing all the babies?” Payton told Wilson, per ESPN. “You’re not running for public office.”
The underlying message is that Payton wanted Wilson to focus less on his personal brand this upcoming season.
Payton has been publicly candid about the state of the Broncos last season, when the team sunk to 5-12 following an offseason in which they had playoff expectations after a blockbuster trade to acquire Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks, and has not hesitated to even throw some public shade at members of the Broncos’ front office who have remained in place from last season.
As NFL training camps opened in July, Payton said Hackett’s coaching job with the 2022 Broncos “might have been the worst ever” but did not limit his criticism to his predecessor.
“There’s 20 dirty hands, for what was allowed, tolerated in the fricking training rooms, the meeting rooms,” Payton said then. “I don’t know Hackett. A lot of people had dirt on their hands. It wasn’t just Russell. He didn’t just flip. He still has it.”
Of course, no NFL coach who joined a new team in this last coaching cycle came in with as much clout as Payton, who helped turn Drew Brees into one of the best quarterbacks in league history and was the only coach hired last offseason who had previously led a team to the Super Bowl. He spent last season as an NFL analyst with FOX Sports after stepping away from the New Orleans Saints at the end of the 2021 season.
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