PAYBACK: Sean Payton Sticks It to Roger Goodell


This past Sunday, Sean Payton made a bold move, and essentially gave NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “the finger” by agreeing to appear on “Ballers”.

“Ballers” is a hit HBO series now entering its second season, and has become a cult favorite among NFL players — much to the apparent displeasure of Goodell himself.

It stars former WWE pro wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and focuses on the lives of NFL players off the field. It celebrates the excesses of life in the league – the parties, the women, the drugs – but it also focuses on the dedication and sacrifice these players pour into their teams and cities, 365 days a year.

The series is set in Miami, which sets up all sorts of shenanigans, glitz, and glamour, as you might imagine.

Not surprisingly, Goodell is allegedly not a fan of the show.

At all.

In fact, it’s probably safe to say that he he hates it with a passion.

Nov 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell attends the game between the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Famous Boston native and popular actor Mark Wahlberg is the show’s executive producer. A few weeks ago, Wahlberg called in as a guest to the ESPN show “Mike and Mike” to promote “Ballers”.

More from New Orleans Saints

During his conversation with the hosts, he revealed that Roger Goodell had actually called him to tell him, “he couldn’t do this”, and according to Wahlberg, Goodell also put pressure on NFL players not to appear in the show.

The NFL was swift to respond, and issued a press release stating that Wahlberg’s story was untrue, and that Goodell had never called him regarding the show. It seems safe to say that if Goodell was impartial to the show before, recent events have definitely soured him on its merits.

It’s hardly a secret that there is no love lost between the Saints organization and the NFL Commissioner. Saints quarterback Drew Brees was quoted this Spring as saying, “I wouldn’t trust any investigation led by Roger Goodell”.

Feb 8, 2007; Honolulu, HI, USA; New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during an Ohana Day NFC practice for the 2007 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marco Garcia-US PRESSWIRE

Sean Payton himself was suspended a year as a result of the Bounty-Gate scandal that rocked the Saints organization to its core, the ripple effects of which are still felt around the league to this day.

This past Sunday night, in the midst of all the brouhaha, Sean Payton made his way onto prime-time, making a cameo appearance on the show.

He played himself in the episode, and is one of the only actual NFL coaching personalities to ever make an appearance. For example, the series is set in Miami, and the role of the Dolphins head coach is played by one of the series’ directors, Peter Berg.

Sean Payton was there to recruit the fictional Free Agent wider receiver, Ricky Jerrett. Ricky is played by John David Washington, who happens to be the son of Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington.

Ironically, Coach Payton already knew Washington, as he was a running back during Saints training camp in 2008.

Washington was ultimately cut and did not make the 53-man team. This adds another layer of complexity to the episode, which portrays the Saints organization attempting to “woo” the coveted slot receiver.

Washington was cut before the 2008 campaign – which of course was the year right before the Saints would go on to win the Super Bowl.

No doubt the Saints are hoping Sean Payton’s reunion with Washington will yield similar results…….