Feeling the pressure Sean Payton Turns to His Mentor Bill Parcells
Chris Mortenson reported that Sean Payton asked his mentor and retired former Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells to consider coaching the Saints while he’s suspended for a year. As you know, Payton’s suspension is due to the fact that the Saints ran a bounty program under his watch and lied to the NFL about it for about 2 years. As numerous reporters have pointed out, even an “interim” coaching job would set Parcells another 5 years back for Hall of Fame consideration so the likelihood of Parcells taking over for Payton is pretty low. He could, however, fill in for GM Mickely Loomis who is suspended until week 8 but even that seems like a stretch from where I sit. Obviously, that means nothing as stranger things have happened.
In fact, the mere thought of Payton and Parcells discussing such a move is strange itself. Why would Payton want to subject the team to an entirely different coaching style (Payton is known for being a good listener and a flexible leader, Parcells, however, is not) that, if things go as planned, would only be for a year anyway? Would it not make more sense for Steve Spagnuolo to double as DC and HC…at least then–assuming Spags doesn’t flee for another HC position after next season–players would be adapting to a style that they’d have to get used to anyway.
But the mentor-mentee relationshp is an influential one. And like any good mentor Parcells has had a lasting impact on Payton. In 2010, Jeff Duncan mentioned in the Times-Picayne that when Payton first took over as HC of the Saints, the halls seemed haunted by Parcells:
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There was a time not long ago when folks around New Orleans Saints camp thought Bill Parcells haunted the building. “Bill this.” “Bill that.” “Here’s how they’d do it in Dallas.” Sean Payton seemingly couldn’t make a decision without referencing his mentor, Bill Parcells.New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton leg injury forced him to rely on others while he recovered.
The approach was understandable. Payton arrived in New Orleans fresh off, as he would call it, a three-year graduate term in the Big Tuna School of Coaching. Learning at the side of one of the most accomplished and respected coaches in NFL history left an indelible impression on Payton, both as a man and coach.
When he left Dallas for New Orleans, he was a walking encyclopedia of Parcells-isms.
Over time, Payton gradually has emerged from Parcells’ considerable shadow. Now in his sixth season in New Orleans, Payton has grown comfortable and confident in his own coaching skin.
Consider the two big plays that helped spur the Saints to victory in the Super Bowl that year–both were reminiscent of Parcells’ penchant for high risk high reward playcalling. And Payton clearly reveled in his mentor’s approval of how he coached the game. Payton has also admitted to borrowing quite a few of Parcells’ techniques for motivating players from week to week.
All of this considered, I suppose it’s fitting that Payton would want the man in football he trusts the most to take over his team in his absence. But that doesn’t make it a good idea.