That time Sean Payton diverted the Saints' team plane to extend their victory party


Former Saints coach Sean Payton's departure from New Orleans sent shockwaves through the NFL this week.

Among those weighing in was Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who joined 105.3 The Fan on Friday to discuss a range of topics, including his apparent relationship with Payton, a former Dallas offensive coordinator.

Payton's exit after 15 seasons (16 years) with the Saints sent the rumor mill into overdrive, with some even suggesting Payton could end up back with his former employers in Dallas.

Jones, for his part, emphatically denied any knowledge about Payton's split from New Orleans. But he also offered up high praise for Payton's people skills -- and recalled an incredible story from early in Payton's journey as an NFL head coach.

"Sean is easy and really pleasant to be around," Jones said. "He does things that really help ball teams, and help motivate players. He's got that right -- he's got 'it.'

"There's a great story about when New Orleans beat us -- there's a rule about having alcohol on the team plane. And so, when New Orleans beat us one year when Bill Parcells was coaching -- it was Sean's first win after joining the New Orleans staff -- and they happened to have a lot of non-alcoholic beer on board. And I'm winking. And they have to have a lot of -- well, the trip from here to New Orleans is probably what, 35-40 minutes? Well he said after that win, 'We'll just stay in the air until we've consumed our beer.' So they flew up around Denver to go home, from here to New Orleans, so that they could celebrate."

The Saints did indeed beat up on the Cowboys in Week 14 in 2006, and while Payton's apparent stunt wouldn't exactly qualify environmentally friendly, such a move would seem to jibe with his fun-loving antics. He recently posted a picture of himself flashing his rather impressive guns with Lil Wayne, for example.

But, to Jones, it speaks to part of what has made Payton successful.

"That kind of natural instinctive leadership or spontaneous-type approach to life, his approach to his team, to his associates is a real asset to him," Jones said. "He makes the drudgery of the game, which is physical, and you need some lightness in there from time to time. And to handle the rigors of a football team, a season, or sometimes even a game, he knows how to punch those buttons."

Payton went 152-89 in the regular season with the Saints, and won Super Bowl XLIV in February 2010. He was suspended for the entirety of the 2012 season over the Bountygate scandal.

While it sounds like Payton has a big fan in Jones, the Cowboys' owner also made it a point to say he had full confidence in head coach Mike McCarthy. The former Packers head coach is expected back in 2022, with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, another head coaching candidate, also back in the fold.

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