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Why now? Saints coach Sean Payton explains why he's stepping down

Payton said the difficult season didn’t force his retirement, his reasons were much more personal.

NEW ORLEANS — Sean Payton did something most people in professional sports don’t: He went out on his own terms. 

The Saints head coach announced his retirement at a Tuesday afternoon press conference, but not because of an injury or lack of success: “It was time,” Payton said.  

“I felt like it was time maybe heading into training camp,” Payton said. “I felt the time was right for me.”  

Payton spent 15 seasons with the Saints, joining the team one year after Hurricane Katrina in 2006 and leading the team to their first Super Bowl in 2009. Overall, he has a 152-89 record as Saints head coach.  

This last season had been Payton’s toughest. Several injuries, including the teams top two QBs, turned an ultra-talented roster into a 9-8 team that missed the playoffs. 

Payton said the difficult season didn’t force his retirement though, his reasons were much more personal. 

“There’s a lot of sacrifices that you make,” Payton said of being an NFL head coach. “I looked at it as an opportunity to see my kids more, to travel more to get in better shape.” 

Payton did say his coaching career might not be over though. The now-former Saints coach said he could return to coaching in the future, but that’s “not where (his) heart is” right now. He also mentioned a career in television, saying that he hasn’t spoken to any networks, but talked with Drew Brees about his new career and is excited about the possibility. 

“Retirement, I don’t think is the right word today,” Payton said. “I don’t know what’s next and it kind of feels good.”


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