Going back to February 2023, Sean Payton was the most coveted head coach on the market. The Arizona Cardinals lost the sweepstakes as Payton chose Denver, forcing general manager Monti Ossenfort to choose between a pair of coordinators in Mike Kafka and Lou Anarumo, or so we thought.
Following the Super Bowl, a third name popped up: The energetic Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, and he ended up winning the job. Naturally, it was disappointing to see a proven commodity in Payton spurn the Cardinals while the Redbirds settled for a rookie head coach.
But in hindsight, the Cardinals should be thankful they have Gannon and not Payton, following the latter’s highly unprofessional comments regarding former Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Sure, Hackett was a bad coach, but no one with Payton’s experience and reputation should be saying what he said earlier this week about who is, in many aspects, a colleague.
Arizona Cardinals lucky to have Gannon, not Payton
We all know what Payton said during his interview with USA Today earlier in the week, so there is no need to rehash. But imagine for a second, following all the offseason turmoil that haunted the Cardinals, if he were in the desert right now as opposed to the always positive, spirited Gannon.
How would his comments reflect on first year general manager Monti Ossenfort? Or owner Michael Bidwill, who we all know has been in hot water for multiple reasons over the past six months?
To Payton’s credit, he at least apologized, addressed the statements, and admitted he was in the wrong. But still, the guy is 59 years old and he’s been an NFL coach in varying capacities since 1997.
The unprofessionalism Payton displayed this past week should have every single Cardinals fan heaving a sigh of relief that he’s in Denver, and not Glendale. Following the tribulations the 2023 offseason brought in which Arizona saw nothing but bad news every time you turned around, they need to be grateful Gannon is leading this team at the moment as it would have been yet another blemish on the Redbirds recent track record.
Source: Sean Payton pinpoints blame for Broncos' collapse, Russell Wilson's woes: '20 dirty hands' by Jarrett Bell, USA Today