Sean Payton reveals what late Saints owner told him about crushing playoff loss
The New Orleans Saints have been having a rough go of it lately.
The most recent bit of news that came out New Orleans was the passing of longtime beloved owner Tom Benson last week.
Saints Owner Tom Benson, 90, passed away peacefully today at Ochsner Medical Center with his wife Gayle Marie Benson at his side https://t.co/gjAIQYKdDw pic.twitter.com/BK5aS2vj0v
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) March 15, 2018
Benson had become ill with the flu in February.
The last football memory of Benson’s, as well as Saints fans everywhere, was also rather painful.
Saints rookie safety Marcus Williams missed an insanely easy tackle on Minnesota receiver Stefon Diggs, leading to the Vikings’ game-winning 61-yard touchdown as time expired in their NFC divisional playoff game Jan. 14.
It was an ignominious ending to a great Saints season in which the team went 11-5 and won the NFC South.
And Williams’ blunder aside, the Saints had done an excellent job finding and drafting young talent — running back Alvin Kamara was PFWA Co-Offensive Rookie of the Year and cornerback Marshon Lattimore was Defensive Rookie of the Year — to help surround Drew Brees for what will likely be his last few years in the NFL.
The future was and is bright, which makes it all the sadder that Benson won’t get to experience a Saints team on the rise.
But that didn’t mean Benson wasn’t aware of his team’s bright potential. He indicated as much to head coach Sean Payton immediately following the gut-wrenching loss, as Payton revealed Sunday.
“Hey Coach, I like this group. Tough loss. But I like this group. We’re going in the right direction. We’ll be OK,” Benson told him in the aftermath of the disastrous NFC divisional round game.
From all indications, it was indicative of the type of positive attitude that Benson tried to bring to his teams.
Payton indicated how grateful he was for Benson to say that. There was no blame or finger-pointing, just positivity.
In a touching farewell tribute to Benson posted on Sports Illustrated, Payton shared many of the colorful quotes that made Benson so beloved.
“Retirement speeds your aging, you know. Don’t retire. It’s the most overrated thing ever,” Benson once told Payton.
That’s sound advice that Drew Brees seems to have taken when he re-signed with the team in the early hours of free agency, perhaps the one bit of good news the team has had recently. And if the Saints’ young players continue to develop, there’s no reason New Orleans won’t be able to honor the memory of Benson with a Super Bowl win.
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