The Saints and Buccaneers closed out the 2017 regular season with a game in Tampa and they’ll be opening the 2018 season by meeting again.
The game will be in New Orleans this time and both team’s coaches were asked if there will be a repeat of the contentious handshake that followed a 31-24 Tampa win. Saints coach Sean Payton slapped Dirk Koetter’s chest repeatedly during a prolonged and awkward handshake as the two men appeared to be discussing Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans taking a cheap shot at Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore during an earlier meeting between the teams.
“Listen, number one, he’s a good friend and a real good coach,” Payton said Wednesday, via the Tampa Bay Times. “And you know, you get going in a game and you get competitive in a game. It was nothing specific. He’s someone I’ve had a chance to follow when he was in college coaching and I was in college at the same time. He’s someone I root for. Obviously, he’s in our division, so hopefully not when we’re playing them. But it was nothing.”
Koetter said he loses “zero sleep” over what happened in Tampa last December and one would imagine that the last nine months have made it easier for everyone to move on without things flaring up again this weekend.