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Sean Payton denies rift with Dirk Koetter

Michael Dixon
NFL

Following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ upset win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 17, coaches Dirk Koetter and Sean Payton were seen in a handshake that wasn’t exactly friendly. Cameras caught the two talking about the brawl that broke out in the first meeting between the two teams.

But answering a question about it on Wednesday, Payton denied that he has any animosity towards Koetter.

“Not at all,” Payton said, per Jenna Laine, ESPN. “Listen, he’s a great coach and a good friend and when you get into these games, you just get going 100 miles an hour. … I know he’s building his team, and I like just meeting some of [Koetter’s] guys who are out here. But it’s all good.”

In truth, it’s easy to take Payton at his word here. Things do go fast in the NFL and it’s not hard to see how some bad blood from a truly ugly incident could have carried itself into a rematch. Payton’s answer now, with some time away from it, is more likely what’s truly reflective of the relationship between himself and Koetter.

For Payton’s sake, we have to hope that this is the truth. Koetter was retained as Tampa’s head coach for 2018. As such, the two men and their respective teams will square off twice during the 2018 season. Certainly, those won’t be games to turn off until we do see that usually calm postgame handshake.