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Hey Sean Payton, what was behind that handshake with Dirk Koetter? ‘It was nothing’

The Saints coach is known for some theatrics on the sideline and after games with opponents
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter greets New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton at midfield following a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. [Times files (2017)]
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter greets New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton at midfield following a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. [Times files (2017)]
Published Sep. 5, 2018
Updated Sep. 5, 2018

Sean Payton has been known to be pretty animated on the sideline, and his antics sometimes appear antagonistic.

Shortly after the Bucs beat the Saints 31-24 in the final regular-season game last season, with Chris Godwin hauling in a TD pass from Jameis Winston with nine seconds remaining, Payton and Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter engaged in a prolonged, contentious handshake.

Payton took to slapping Koetter on the chest. Harder than normal.

It wasn't the only time Payton threw a little shade to an opponent. In Week 14, he made a choking sign to Falcons running back Devonta Freeman.

Late in the Saints' playoff loss to the Vikings, Payton turned his back to the field and did the Skol clap to Minnesota fans. He chalked that off to having a little "playoff fun."

But with respect to Koetter, Payton said there is no bad blood.

"Listen, number one, he's a good friend and a real good coach,'' Payton said Wednesday. "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 returned the respect.

"I'm not sure. I'm not sure. I lose zero sleep over that. I'm sure he doesn't,'' Koetter said. "Two guys that want to win, and they're going to do everything they can to win and that's it. Other than that, I've got the utmost respect for him. I study what they do. They're one of the elite teams in this league, and he's one of the elite coaches.''

Saints quarterback Drew Brees says Payton is ultra-fiery on game day.

"Yeah, he's a fiery, passionate guy," Brees said. "He's competitive. On Sunday, he kind of flips the switch and takes it to another level in regards to his demeanor and his attitude and that kind of thing. No, I mean, he's a great coach to play for. Obviously, I've played for him for a long time now. I know he has high expectations. He expects a lot, demands a lot, especially on game day, and you just want to rise to the occasion and play well for a coach like that."