The beef between Sean Payton and the New York Jets just got a whole lot spicier.
Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a long-time friend and champion of current Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, warned that Payton should “keep my coach’s name out of his mouth” after Payton ripped the job Hackett did as the Broncos coach last season, in exclusive comments to USA TODAY Sports’ Jarrett Bell.
“Yeah, I love Nathaniel Hackett, and those comments were very surprising, for a coach to do that to another coach,” Rodgers said Sunday during an interview with NFL Network after New York’s practice Sunday.
“I thought it was way out of line, inappropriate, and I think he needs to keep my coach’s name out of his mouth.”
In January, the Jets hired Hackett, who had been fired from the Broncos after a Week 16 loss last season, as offensive coordinator. Hackett’s presence on the New York coaching staff was a key part of Rodgers’ decision to play for the Jets. The two had worked together three seasons in Green Bay from 2019-21, when Hackett served as the Packers’ offensive coordinator.
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The Broncos hired Payton in January to take over the franchise, which saw new quarterback Russell Wilson struggle through a massive regression year in 2023. In Payton’s comments to USA TODAY Sports, he took particular aim at Hackett’s handling of Wilson.
What did Aaron Rodgers say about Nathaniel Hackett?
“My love for Hack goes deep, you know, we had some great years together in Green Bay,” Rodgers continued. “(We) kept in touch, love him and his family, he’s an incredible family man and an incredible dad. And on the field, he’s arguably my favorite coach I’ve ever had in the NFL. Just his approach to it, how he makes it fun, how he cares about the guys, just how he goes about his business with respect, with leadership, with honesty, with integrity.
“It made me feel that bad that someone (Payton) who’s accomplished a lot in the league is that insecure that they have to take another man down to set themselves up for some sort of easy fall if it doesn’t go well for that team this year.”
The Jets will travel to Denver to face the Broncos in Week 5 of the regular season.
What else have the Jets said about Sean Payton’s comments?
Offensive tackle Billy Turner, who was a member of the Broncos last season under Hackett, called Payton an “(expletive) bum.” Turner ended the social media post with a #BountyGate hashtag, in reference to the scandal with the same name for which Payton was suspended the entire 2012 season.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh defended Hackett, saying he thought he was doing a “phenomenal job” with the team. Saleh and Hackett had previously been on the same staff in 2015-16, with the Jacksonville Jaguars, when both were assistants there.
“I’m not going to acknowledge Sean,” Saleh said Thursday during his news conference. “He’s been in the league a while. He can say whatever the hell he wants. But as far as what we have going on here, I kind of live by the saying, ‘If you ain’t got no haters, you ain’t poppin.’ So hate away. Obviously, we’re doing something right if you gotta talk about us when we don’t play you till (Week 5). And I’m good with it. The guys in our locker room, they’ve earned everything that’s coming to them.”
What else did Sean Payton say about Nathaniel Hackett?
In an extended conversation with USA TODAY Sports’ Jarrett Bell, Payton said that Hackett’s time in Denver “might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL. That’s how bad it was.”
Payton also added: “Everything I heard about last season, we’re doing the opposite.”
After his comments were widely circulated, Payton expressed remorse the following day and called them a “mistake.”