As more Saints players weigh in on the yearlong suspension of their head coach, Sean Payton, two things are becoming clear: Saints players think Payton’s punishment is excessive, and they want to rally around him this season.
The latest player to weigh in is offensive lineman Zach Strief, who said his teammates will be motivated more than ever by what they view as unfair treatment of Payton.
“This season is going to take on an us-versus-the-world mentality,” Strief told the Associated Press. “The perception at this point is not positive with us. We’ve worked very hard, I know as players, to gain respect, not only as a good team but as a good group of guys. That perception will go completely out the window now, and I think that’ll be kind of a rallying cry for us.”
Strief said that people picking against the Saints this year are going to find that they’re more fired up than ever.
“It will give us a chance to kind of come together closer than we’ve ever been and say, ‘Look, nobody wants us to even win anymore, and we’re going to win for each other, and for coach Payton and Mickey and the guys that essentially took this fall,'” he said.
The absence of Payton may serve as motivation for the Saints during the offseason. Once the season starts, missing Payton is going to hurt.