Feb 12, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, US; Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton looks on during the second quarter of Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In case you didn’t already know, everything that Sean Payton does is deliberate and calculated. So, when he backed up a truck over Nathaniel Hackett and staff, the current Denver Broncos head coach was only using this as a motivational tool for his quarterback, right? I mean, after all, he was brought in to fix Russell Wilson.

NFL coaches criticizing other coaches is not commonplace in today’s game. It just doesn’t happen. And yet, when Payton decided to take some pointed shots about Hackett’s shortcomings in Denver during an exclusive interview with USA Today’s Jarrett Bell, a lot of those in the NFL media quickly ushered into his defense.

And I get it, Payton was a part of the media, and there’s obviously a method to his madness. He obviously wasn’t going to say something made for public consumption without thinking about it first, but do we really need to pretend that he’s playing 4d Chess?

We’re not going to pretend like the media is carrying Payton’s water. That’s not what’s happening here. But at the same time, the amount of media members who took to social media to quickly shield Payton from criticism for his comments is a bit staggering.

Just see for yourself:

“Payton has a purpose for everything.”

“This wasn’t a fly off the handle; this was intentional.”

“He sees it (football, the media, the reaction) all as giant chess board.”

“One thing about Sean Payton: Everything is intentional, not accidental.”

“Sean Payton is very deliberate with everything he does.”

Notice a common theme here?

And as The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt pointed out, just because you’re doing something intentionally doesn’t mean you should’ve done it. And he’s right. There’s no need for Payton to give the Jets bulletin board material before they even play their first preseason game. Jets coach Robert Saleh and two veteran players were not pleased. And you can blame them?

Just because Payton can say it, doesn’t mean he should.

“It might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL. “That’s how bad it was.”

There are 20 dirty hands, for what was allowed, tolerated in the fricking training rooms, the meeting rooms,” Payton said, apparently referencing the access Wilson’s entourage enjoyed to the team facility.

“The offense. I don’t know Hackett. A lot of people had dirt on their hands. It wasn’t just Russell [Wilson]. He didn’t just flip. He still has it. This B.S. that he hit a wall? Shoot, they couldn’t get a play in. They were 29th in the league in pre-snap penalties on both sides of the ball.”

He didn’t solely place the blame on Hackett, but that’s beside the point here. Payton is a big boy, he knew what he was doing and knew what he was saying. Just because you have a relationship with Payton or cover the team he’s the head coach of doesn’t mean you have to give him a free pass and actually defend actions. You know what? He’s mostly right, but a lot of this stuff doesn’t need to be aired out publicly.

Payton knew what he was doing. He’s not immune to criticism. We can all see his actions were “deliberate, calculated and strategic.” Those buzzwords don’t need to be used to defend his actions. It’s not hard to say that Payton knew what he was doing, but he shouldn’t have said it.

Especially when you have players like Billy Turner or Bradley Chubb who played for Hackett last season. Now, they didn’t need to come to his defense, we understand how dire the situation was in Denver and it’s why he was relieved of his duties before the end of his first season.

“I don’t agree with it, I thought coach Hackett was a great coach…He can say what he wants to say but I have nothing but great things to say about coach Hackett,” Chubb said Friday via ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques.

It doesn’t matter if you agree with Payton’s comments or not, the need to give him a pass, or mercilessly defend him for that matter, is a bit bizarre and comes off almost as PR. Every tweet we’ve pointed out above almost reads as a copy and paste. We aren’t here to throw stones, but at the same time, we probably shouldn’t have to point out that you don’t work for Payton.

[USA Today]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.