When Sean Payton flipped on “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” on Monday night, he knew his franchise quarterback might be in for an up-close reptilian encounter.
What Payton didn’t know was how close.
With Grylls — a popular figure Payton wasn’t familiar with — in close watch, Brees took a helicopter ride down to Panama, rappelled down cliffs and jumped on a crocodile’s back in order to kill the animal for dinner.
“He is throwing a noose around an alligator’s mouth, and I am watching our quarterback jump on it, and it was all news to me,” Payton said. “I had heard something three, four, five months ago about him jumping on an alligator, but like I said, I didn’t envision the environment or the set-up to be like that. ”
Payton knew Brees was planning to be on the show.
But the images he’d conjured up were a little more controlled than what the TV show depicted.
“I had heard about this thing, and my impressions were this is kind of a Sea World environment where he jumped on an alligator,” Payton said. “What I saw the other night was completely (different). First off when you live in Louisiana, you don’t have to go to South America to jump on an alligator.”
Brees was familiar with the shows Grylls has done in the past.
But he wasn’t really expecting to end up on the back of a crocodile, even if Grylls’ experience as an outdoorsman made the situation feel a little less dangerous.
“I knew I would be getting outside my comfort zone a little bit with maybe some of the heights and the snakes and different things,” Brees said. “Did I expect to be killing a crocodile on that trip? No. And then eating it for dinner, but when you are in the moment, you kind of just go primal.”
Brees had never been in a jungle before.
But he told Grylls he’d spent plenty of time in the Louisiana bayou, and the crocodile kill almost felt like a local experience.
“I am sitting there carrying a crocodile on my shoulders, I ended up carrying it like a mile up hills and everywhere to find our campsite,” Brees said. ” I am just thinking the whole time, I am like people down in Louisiana, I think this is going to make them proud. ”
For his part, Payton had a good sense of humor about the whole thing. Before Brees’ weekly press conference with local media, Payton snuck in and put an alligator head on a chair next to the podium.
But would Payton let his quarterback relive the experience?
“No, no, no,” Payton said.