Sean Payton

Super Bowl-winning coach Sean Payton is currently working as an analyst for Fox Sports. And though he admits to liking the job, it would seem there’s an itch with football that sitting in a booth cannot scratch.

Payton recently got candid with Peter King of Pro Football Talk. He talked about what he misses about coaching and gave a timeline on his return to the sidelines, all while comparing himself to a golden retriever.

“If I was a dog, I would be a retriever,” Payton told King. “I don’t do well hanging out by myself. You with me? I need company.”

“When you go online and you’re gonna buy a dog and if you’re single, living in an apartment, they’ll give you four or five breeds that are very comfortable if they don’t ever see a human being. Alright? Then if you’re in a family of five and you’re gonna buy a dog—I would definitely be someone that wants to be around and interact with people. The camaraderie of the staff and the locker room with the Saints, I miss. I’m starting to get some of that with TV in the studio.”

It would seem that Payton is the latest NFL figure to retire and find himself lacking interests outside the game of football. He is open to returning to the sidelines, but it will only be for the right opportunity.

“The other day when that [Saints-Bucs] game was being played was one of the first times that I’ve missed it,” Payton told King. “I missed being a part of the draft. I always enjoyed that process. But the other afternoon watching and just seeing the type of game that was unfolding, that’s one of those moments. There’s nothing better than being a part of the success with your players and fellow coaches. It’s hard to replace that. People try all sorts of ways to do it.

“Do I think I’ll coach again this upcoming season? Or a better way maybe would be, do I think I coach again? I do think at some point I’ll coach again. That being said, as you chase perfection in this other career, it’s one of those things where if you feel like you continue to get better and those people that are experts at it, if others feel like, hey, he can be really, really good, that’s the type thing that pulls at you. Now, if they’re like, don’t quit your day job, then it’s an easy decision.”

Whether Payton actually returns to coaching remains to be seen. But he’s certainly dropped lots of hints that he wants to come back at some point. And he likely won’t lack suitors should he return to the profession. There have already been reports about the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins trying to land him in the past, and while it’s not clear which teams will have vacancies after this year, Payton seems likely to be linked to many vacancies that do show up.

Payton (seen above on the sidelines in 2019) last coached in 2021. His New Orleans Saints finished 9-8 that season.

[NBC Sports; photo from Chuck Cook/USA Today Sports]