Sean Payton is a successful American football coach who also played football professionally as a quarterback. Sean Payton spent the majority of his coaching career serving as the NFL’s New Orleans Saints head coach for fifteen years (2006 to 2021), where he led the Saints to its first Super Bowl win at the end of the 2009 season.
Recently, Sean Payton signed as the head coach of the NFL’s Denver Broncos for the 2023 -2024 season. When Payton left the Saints, he was pulling in nearly $10 million a year as the head coach. His new coaching position in Mile High City reportedly falls somewhere between $17 to $20 million. This salary ranks Payton as one of the highest-paid NFL head coaches in the league.
In 2023, it is estimated that Sean Payton net worth is approximately $24 million.
The Early Sean Payton Years
Payton was born in 1963 in San Mateo, California. His parents were originally from the Scranton, PA, area but moved to Newtown Square, PA, during Payton’s grade school and middle school years.
By high school, Sean Payton’s family had moved to Naperville, Illinois – a western suburb of Chicago. Payton met his wife Beth while coaching at Indiana State University. Although now divorced, the couple had two children while married.
Sean Payton – The Football Player
As a senior attending Naperville Central High School in Naperville, Illinois, Payton was the starting quarterback in 1982 before graduating.
Eastern Illinois University
Sean Payton attended Eastern Illinois University on full scholarship as a football recruit. In 1986, as the quarterback, Sean Payton led the team to the Division 1-AA Playoffs quarter-finals – finishing 11 and 2 on the season. While playing at EIU under Al Molde, the EIU football team was known as Eastern Airlines – a word-play on the now defunct commercial airline and the fact that Payton’s passing attack typically yielded 300+ yards/game. In fact, Payton’s single-game passing record of 509 yards still stands as a school record decades later.
Professional Football Experience
Payton didn’t make the 1987 NFL Draft but still tried to make the team for the Kansas City Chiefs. That year, he was a starting quarterback for two different teams in the first season of the new Arena Football League – The Pittsburgh Gladiators and the Chicago Bruisers.
When the NFL strike hit that year, Payton was hired as the quarterback for the Chicago Bears – as part of the replacement player/team (known at that time as the Spare Bears) during the strike. Ironically, the only interception thrown by Payton as a member of this strike-replacement squad, came when playing the New Orleans Saints – the team he would later coach to a Super Bowl victory!
The following year, in 1988, Sean Payton began playing professionally for the United Kingdom’s Budweiser National League. Payton led the Leicester Panthers to an 8-5 record that took them into the first round of the BAFA National League championships.
Sean Payton – The Football Coach
Payton began coaching for San Diego State University in 1988 as an offensive assistant coach. He took a number of assistant positions as a coach at two other schools (Miami University and Indiana State University), eventually coaching– Marshall Faulk – who ranks as one of the greatest all-time running backs when he played professionally in the National Football League.
Payton’s first NFL coaching position was with the Philadelphia Eagles as the team’s quarterback coach (1997 to 1998) – working with other assistant coaches who would eventually become not only head coaches on their own, but head coaches of Super Bowl Championship teams – Jon Gruden (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Bill Callahan (Oakland Raiders).
New York Giants
Payton began as the New York Giants quarterback coach in 1999. The following year, he received a promotion and became the Giants' offensive coordinator – a position that led the Giants to the Super Bowl berth as the NFC champion.
While working for the NY Giants, the team’s flight from Denver pulled up next to United Airlines Flight 93 at Newark International Airport on 9/11/01. Flight 93 became the flight that was hijacked and crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania. This moment is poignantly recalled in Sean Payton’s autobiography entitled – Home Team – Coaching the Saints & New Orleans Back to Life.
Sean Payton coached the Cowboys with Bill Parcells (who coached the New York Giants to a Super Bowl victory in the 1980s), as an assistant head coach and the coach for the quarterbacks in 2003. While there, he coached Drew Bledsoe and Vinny Testaverde. By 2005, Payton was promoted to Parcell’s assistant and the passing game coordinator.
New Orleans Saints
Sean Payton’s first opportunity as an NFL head coach was when he was hired by the New Orleans Saints in 2006. This was a tough assignment as his first season as head coach was in the wake of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and a season record of 3 and 13 – the league’s second-worst record that year.
In time, Sean Payton had the ability to turn the struggling team around in a better direction when the team acquired Drew Brees – a free-agent quarterback whose arm led the New Orleans Saints to their first playoff appearance in six years. Payton’s coaching abilities were evident by the stats put up by the team that year – ranking at the top with regard to passing statistics and fifth in the league in points scored.
In the NFC championship game that year, despite out-gaining the Chicago Bears in offensive yards, the Saints lost by an unusually lopsided score of 39 to 14.
Payton’s New Orleans Saint’s Impressive Coaching Statistics
While coaching the Saints, Sean Payton compiled a 152 and 89 record – which translates to a winning percentage of .631. While coaching the team in the playoffs, Payton finished with a 9 and 8 record.
The New Orleans Saints won Super Bowl XLIV and
Sean Payton - NFL Coach of the Year
Sean Payton, receiving about 90% of the votes from a panel of sports broadcasters/journalists, took home the Associated Press –NFL Coach of the Year Award – in January 2007.
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Written by Allen Lee
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