METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton finally, reluctantly, met with the media Wednesday for his mandatory end-of-season news conference after he spent much of last week in his “cave,” as he put it.
“What is it now, a week and a half? It feels like it’s been longer than that,” Payton said. “I would say honestly after the game for two to three days, much like normal people, I sat and probably didn’t come out of my room, ate Jeni’s ice cream and watched Netflix for three straight days.”
Payton said the anger probably lasted about 24 hours after the infamous no-call that knocked his team out of the NFC Championship Game. After that, he said, his reaction has primarily been disappointment.
He credited the NFL’s head of officials, Al Riveron, for being “fantastic” and “brutally honest” right after the 26-23 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Rams, when Riveron admitted the officials missed both a pass interference and helmet-to-helmet call against Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis.
Payton said he then spoke to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent briefly over the next two days after the game. But he knew that nothing could be done about the no-call.
“My discussions briefly on Monday and Tuesday with the commissioner and Troy were relative to — not any type of reversal or anything like that — just the play and any statement,” Payton said. “But there’s tons of people that reach out to you, you get a ton of text messages and emails, and you’re appreciative of all that, then you just want to disappear into your cave for a little while.”
Payton, who is a member of the NFL’s competition committee, did say that he hopes what happened to the Saints can lead to productive change in the league rules so there is a way for such calls to be reviewed.
“Look it’s very common in our league for certain events to take place. And then, man, there’s a reaction maybe in the offseason where oftentimes we find our own flaws because of some loophole,” Payton said. “If you look throughout the history of our game – the forward fumble by the Raiders. … (But) the topic’s one thing, the solution is the more challenging thing that we’re all looking for.”
Payton also expressed confidence in the makeup of his team that this is something they can move past.
“This one, where it happened in the postseason, we’ve gotta be able to get past that. And we will,” Payton said. “We’ve got good leadership on this team. I don’t know that you ever really get over it but you do get past it. And there’s enough resolve that this time away is healthy. And when it starts back up again in the spring … you get back at it again.”