Contained within the NFL’s annual effort to sell hope to 32 fan bases was an observation from one coach who believes that two thirds of those fan bases are wasting their time.
Saints coach Sean Payton, appearing on the NFL’s Draft-A-Thon, said something publicly that plenty of NFL figures usually say privately: Roughly 20 teams in any given year have no chance at winning the Super Bowl.
The question came up in the context of whether Payton is concerned about the advances the Buccaneers have made in recent weeks, headlined by the arrival of quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“I say this in all seriousness,” Payton said, via JoeBucsFan.com, “there’s only about 10 or 11 relevant teams. . . . When someone like Tom comes there, it’s not just the quarterback position. The thing as a coach in the division that concerns you, is you know just the standard’s going to change [in Tampa], and I think that’s a credit to the really, really, really special players.”
So the Buccaneers, in Payton’s estimation, have moved from the 20 or so irrelevant teams to the 10 or 11 relevant ones.
“We’re watching a month of my man [Michael Jordan] here,” Payton said, in reference to ESPN’s The Last Dance documentary. “He brought up everyone else around him, and I think that same thing will happen with Tom.”
And here’s another thing Brady can do, even if he only stays in Tampa for two or three years. He can sufficiently elevate the standard to the point that his influence lasts even after he retires. Which would make the Buccaneers relevant not for just a year or two but possibly for a decade.