METAIRIE, La. — Sean Payton has some pretty powerful connections inside the Jordan Brand family.
For one thing, the New Orleans Saints coach has a direct hook-up with Jordan Brand endorser Michael Thomas — who happens to wear the same size 13 shoe. But Payton also revealed to the NFL Network’s Kay Adams during an Instagram Live conversation on Thursday that Michael Jordan himself anointed Payton as his “first Jordan coach” the first time they met.
Apparently Jordan had noticed Payton wearing those Jordan shoes on the sideline.
“Michael just built a [golf] course down in Florida, and I had a chance to tour it. And he was just finishing a round and I had never met him,” Payton recalled. “He said, ‘I’m gonna make you my first Jordan coach.’ And I was kinda like, ‘Huh?’ And sure enough, two weeks later, I get this email. Yeah, so, it’s Jumpman right now.
— Marcus Jordan (@HEIRMJ) May 22, 2020
“Look, we get numb doing what we do, we’re around people that are celebrity, if you will, whether they’re actors or athletes. And we never take that for granted. And yet, for me, that was certainly kind of a different level.”
Payton moved to the Chicago suburb of Naperville with his family when he was in junior high school, and he played for the Chicago Bears as a replacement player in 1987 while Jordan was a young star with the Chicago Bulls. Payton has often shown his appreciation for the basketball icon on Twitter.
— Sean Payton (@SeanPayton) April 26, 2020
— Sean Payton (@SeanPayton) April 9, 2020
Payton’s revealing interview with Adams touched on a wide variety of subjects both on and off the field. Among some of the other highlights:
1) The Saints invited another iconic celebrity, Snoop Dogg, to join a recent video conference with the full team.
“He was outstanding,” Payton said. “He spoke a lot about just the difference between an athlete and an entertainer and understanding the athlete’s role relative to a league, to a bigger picture, to a team.
“It’s just funny when a recognizable figure like that joins the discussion [on the video-conference screen] and you’re just like, ‘Whoa.'”
2) Payton has already started some trash-talking with new NFC South rival Tom Brady. Payton said he has texted Brady that “we want to quiet the cannons” when the Saints visit Tampa Bay, where they blast a cannon from a simulated pirate ship after the Buccaneers score touchdowns.
“He laughs,” Payton said. “He says, ‘You guys are the favorites. We’re the underdogs [when Tampa Bay is scheduled to visit New Orleans in Week 1].’ Blah, blah, blah.”
Payton also joked that he was “proud of the Tampa Bay parks department for kicking Tom out of the recreational field” when Brady was practicing with some of his new teammates the other day. When Adams asked if Payton was the one who made the call to get them kicked out, Payton said, “I’ve got it on speed dial.”
3) On the addition of Jameis Winston, Payton said the Saints are now “in that quarterback business” to try and find a successor for Drew Brees. And when asked which quarterback can handle the complicated playcalls that Brees has mastered, Payton said, “That’s what we’re getting ready to figure out.
“We think Taysom Hill is gonna be a fantastic NFL quarterback. … We also think Jameis Winston is someone who just four years ago was the first pick in the NFL draft, and I think he’s got at age 26 a real bright future,” Payton said. “So when that time comes I think we just increase our chances of finding the right guy. Both of those players know that they’re gonna have to beat out competition. They have different skill sets, yet we’re excited to work with both of them.