Back in May, Sean Payton got a chance to take part in a special Kentucky Derby tradition.

Turns out he was filling in for Rocky.

Payton, who was in Louisville with a big Saints contingent in support of Tom Benson’s pair of Derby horses, Mo Tom and Tom’s Ready, was at the race’s post draw on Wednesday of Derby week when Saints senior vice president of communications Greg Bensel approached him.

“‘They’re wanting to find out if you’ll do the Riders Up as a backup plan in case Sylvester Stallone can’t get there in time from his movie shoot,’” Payton said in an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show Monday. “So I was kind of the bullpen.”

Payton agreed, and by Thursday, Derby officials knew Stallone wouldn’t be able to make it. That’s when Payton found out he’d agreed to saying a few more than just two words.

“You think it’s pretty simple: ‘Riders Up,’” Payton said. “So Thursday night, they said, hey, it’s going to happen, and you’re doing it. Here’s your script. And I said, ‘Script?’”

Payton handled the role with aplomb, but after Eisen asked him whether it was harder to order the second-half onside kick in the Super Bowl or to fill in for Stallone, Payton acknowledged that there were extenuating circumstances at the Kentucky Derby.

“The ‘Riders Up’ was a little hairy after a couple of mint juleps,” Payton said.

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.