Saints head coach Sean Payton and his wife Beth are holding their annual Black and Gold Tie Gala on October 1, to benefit their Play it Forward Foundation, with the goal of helping organizations that focus on the family.
It is something very important to them and a way for them to give back to the New Orleans metropolitan area. Beth Payton credits her friend Karen Hegner for helping to develop the mission for the foundation.
Eyewitness Morning News anchor Eric Paulsen spoke with Beth Payton the day after the Saints’ season-opening win over the Minnesota Vikings, about her husband, the Payton family, the team and their success.
Q: Is the foundation your way of helping out the city and giving back?
A: It is. You know, I do prefer to be the woman behind the man, literally. We’ve got children at home and I do take pride in raising them in a normal environment, however I did find this as an avenue for me to give back to the city in a different way than he (Sean) does. He does it on the field, I’m doing it off the field. But also to be an example for my kids that when you are given a lot, a lot is expected.
Q: This past year has to have been surreal for you guys?
A: I think it’s still surreal. I don’t know if it ever will…I think maybe 20 years from now when we see it in the history books. It’s still one of those ‘Pinch yourself, cannot believe this has happened’ (moments). It feels like an unbelievable journey, just an unbelievable journey we’re on.
Q: In Miami, when we saw him, it looked like Sean kept the same clothes on the day after the game, when he met fans with the Lombardi Trophy in hand.
A: He didn’t have the same clothes on, but they were similar, because I said the same thing! And that was just, you know he wanted that night to last forever. He wanted it to share it with everyone in that room. And it was just, it was just a symbol of all the hard work that had gone on since we all arrived in 2006. It was the pinnacle of that. It’s been an unbelievable ride and you can never imagine. I met him when he was a coach at a 1AA college, and, you know, you have dreams, but you don’t ever see this happening in your life. So it’s been an amazing journey for our family.
Q: How big of a change has this been for you? You guys probably can’t go anywhere without being recognized?
A: You’re right, that would be probably the biggest adjustment for our family. Obviously he’s been a coach his whole life, but to be in that spotlight, where everybody recognizes him, is different. However, people respect that, they know that we’re a family just like everyone else. Trust me, they’re excited when they see him out, but they get it. They know he’s just at his kids’ soccer game or out to eat dinner with the kids, so they’re pretty respectful.
Q: A lot of it falls on you – during the season, he works long hours, it must be tough on the family?
A: I think it’s kind of all what you know. It really is what I’ve always done. It is… there are things he misses, but there’s also some great perks that come with his job. He’s got a great summertime off, we just try to focus on those and we just get in our routine and it’s just what our family parameters are.
Q: Is he as intense at home as he is on field?
A: No, you would be surprised. The man that shows up on Sundays isn’t the man I see, that comes home. In fact, the first time I saw him as a head coach was on TV, and I thought ‘Who is that?’ He had this total intensity that I’d never seen, and passion. But he is just a very laid-back, fun-loving guy at home, always has been.
Q: Sometimes when you see him on the field, it’s just that ice cold face.
A: I never saw that face before and we’ve been married 18 years. It was just that intensity level . And I guess if you could see anybody in the intense part of their work, maybe that’s what it is. He’s in the intensity part of his workday. Not everybody is filmed in the intense part of their workday, so I think that’s what you’re seeing. But he shuts that off. He shuts that off even after a game. He comes home, if we have company that comes in, he’s gracious, he’s entertaining, he’s great with the kids. My kids, when they were little, never knew a win or a loss. They understand it now. But he never allows that to trickle into his family life.
Q: Do you guys talk about football at home?
A: Normally yes, we do. We talk before and after games. He uses me as a sounding board, things that bothered him or what he was excited about or what he told the team. So yeah, we do.
Q: Along the way, you’ve made some high profile friends like Kenny Chesney. How did that happen?
A: I think you find the entertainment and sports industry kind of overlap and you find those who have passion for sports, and Sean has a passion for the music industry. One of his favorite things to do is see live music, so I think you meet and have a mutual respect for their work ethic and what they do. I think that’s what Sean sees in Kenny, the detail he puts into his concerts, I mean they kind of relate to each other in that way and I think that’s where those friendships start. I think they’ve become close friends through the years, through that mutual respect and the way Kenny plans for his concerts to make the show bigger and better each time. Plus Kenny loves football, so it’s a great friendship.
The Black and Gold Tie gala is Friday, Oct. 1 on the floor of the Louisiana Superdome. Individual tickets are $275 each and additional sponsorship levels are available.
The event benefits the Paytons' Play It Forward Foundation which raises funds andawareness for organizations working with families and children in the areas of health, education and social welfare.
For gala tickets call 214-529-6681 or click here