Sean Payton was at the beach, enjoying his Fourth of July weekend, when he glanced at his Twitter account and saw one of his players making a dubious decision.
His most important player. There was a picture of Drew Brees, clinging tightly to a homemade zipline in his Del Mar, Calif., backyard, getting ready to drop into his kids’ pool.
Payton replied to Brees with a half-joking tweet saying all he needed to see next was Brees playing with fireworks.
Almost immediately, Payton’s phone buzzed with a text from Brees’ wife, Brittany.
“Tell me if you want me to him stop,” the text read.
Payton, making an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show on Monday, said he waited a beat before texting back.
“I want you to make him stop,” Payton responded.
Payton and Brees have been together so long now that the coach is no longer surprised by his quarterback’s daredevil streak. Brees was filmed leaping onto an alligator with Bear Grylls last offseason; Payton knows his quarterback isn’t afraid to take a few risks in the name of fun.
He just wants to make sure Brees makes it to the 16th training camp of his career in peak health, a virtual certainty for Brees if he can avoid any pool, alligator or softball-related injuries.
Brees, at 37, still gets in the kind of shape he brought to his first training camp with the Saints.
“I haven’t seen an instance where, ‘Ah, that’s different than what it was,’ Payton told Eisen. “He’s obviously somebody that trains religiously, takes care of his body fantastically.”
If anybody would know, it’s Payton.
Few quarterback-coach tandems outside of Brady and Belichick can come close to the relationship shared by Brees and Payton, who are about to embark on their 11th season together. By now, the two men know each other inside and out.
But that doesn’t mean they talk at length about everything.
Brees’ contract situation -- he’s entering the final year of his contract, and if no extension has been reached in the next two weeks, the quarterback will table talks until after the 2016 season -- is something better left to Brees’ agent, Tom Condon, and general manager Mickey Loomis.
Drew Brees would love to enter his 11th season in New Orleans with a long-term contract exte…
“The one thing that’s served us well in 10 years is the line of communication,” Payton said. “There’s a level of trust, and I would include Tom Condon and Mickey Loomis in that, because Drew and I will never have a discussion about the contract or anything like that. We would never have that discussion. But that circle of trust between his group and our team is strong, and it’s served us well.”
That doesn’t mean the two leave each other in the dark.
When rumors were swirling about Payton’s future in New Orleans at the end of the season, Brees repeatedly said, often with a smile, that it’d be hard for him to imagine Payton leaving, given the conversations that quarterback and coach had been having about the future of the franchise.
Payton, who signed a five-year extension this offseason, is willing to put a lid on speculation.
“We might have a discussion briefly, like me saying to him, ‘I’m not going anywhere,’” Payton said. “But that would be it. It’s mainly football or family or humor or something that’s going on, and you have so much time with a player like that.”
Enough to know exactly how he wants to respond when his quarterback’s daredevil streak interrupts his trip to the beach.