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New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton reacts after a foul call was not called on a pass to New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis (11) in the last half of the NFC Championship NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019.

Sean Payton spent about three days holed up inside his house.

He turned on Netflix, opened some containers of Jeni’s ice cream and tried to make time pass. The New Orleans Saints coach was doing what he had to do to get through the initial pain of missing out on the Super Bowl following the infamous no-call that helped send Saints and Rams to overtime in the NFC title game, where New Orleans eventually lost 26-23.

“There are certain vices you gravitate towards, and mine is probably sugar,” Payton said. “Much like what we told the team: Obviously there are disappointments you go through relative to your season, and this one where it happened in the postseason, we’ve got to be able to get past that and we will.”

Super Bowl 53 will happen Sunday without the Saints, but this story is still not over. There will almost certainly be a proposal for a rule change that somehow expands the use of replay to include officiating mistakes. It still isn’t clear how that will look, but it will come up this spring at the league’s annual meeting.

Payton, who is on the competition committee, will be part of that process.


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In the aftermath of the game, Payton said he was full of anger for maybe the first day, then realized he had to try to move on. Along with speaking to NFL head of officiating Al Riveron, who admitted an error immediately after the game, the Saints coach also spoke with commissioner Roger Goodell and executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent this week.

Payton said the conversation with Goodell was brief.

One of the things that stood out was the NFL’s unwillingness to make a public statement on the missed call, despite the fact that league officials privately admitted to the Saints that the no-call was an error, and that the NFL fined Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman for his helmet-to-helmet on Tommylee Lewis.

But at this point, the Saints realize nothing is going to change the fact that the Rams and Patriots are playing in the Super Bowl.

“I’m back to ice cream and the Netflix,” Payton said. “There’s a point where you know things aren’t changing and then you get wrapped up in a new series and a new episode, and then it comes back again, and you get wrapped up in a new series and a new episode.”

Payton heard from a lot of people, including an early call from Jon Gruden, who was coaching the Raiders during the infamous “Tuck Rule” game that helped give the Patriots a victory during the 2001 playoffs. As the Saints coach put it, only a handful of people can relate to having a playoff game turned on its head by an officiating decision.

The Raiders used the 2001 controversial call as motivation and got to the Super Bowl the next season, where they lost to the Buccaneers.

Payton believes his team has the right mentality to get through this but also doesn’t think that it necessarily serves a source of motivation.

“Certainly a chip on your shoulder has always been a healthy edge for anyone,” Payton said. “Certainly the Raiders had a chip on their shoulder for a couple of years and won a lot of games. But I think today’s athlete — I think it’s the bond that’s created in the locker room and not wanting to let each other down, wanting to play their best game for each other.”

The Saints coach said he wasn't aware of some of the boycotts and legal proceedings headed up by Saints fans in the past week or so, but he appreciates their passion. This weekend, he said, he will still tune into the Super Bowl and take note of what goes on.

“I don’t really think it’ll be difficult,” Payton said. “I’m sure I’ll watch it ’cause that’s what we do, but I hadn’t even gotten that far ahead relative to where I’ll be. I’ll be with family.”

That’s what they do. It might be difficult for some, but eventually, the Saints must start preparing for games and playing them.

That’s what they do.


Follow Nick Underhill on Twitter, @nick_underhill.​