Jarrett Payton had every reason not to like Marc Trestman.
The son of Chicago Bears' great Walter Payton was coming off a productive season with the CFL's Montreal Alouttes, ranking among the league leaders in rushing yards and touchdowns when the organization made a coaching change and hired Trestman heading into the 2008 season.
Payton did his research on Trestman, a former NFL offensive coordinator, and soon realized the new Alouttes' offense would not be tailored to his strengths and would rely more on smaller, quicker running backs. So Payton sat down with Trestman in the summer of 2008 with the expectation of being released, but the new head coach felt differently.
"I originally signed a one-year deal with an option," Payton told ESPN 1000's "Chicago's Gamenight". "But Marc Trestman came in, and his vision for how we wants to run his offense and how it needs to go, and I knew he wanted smaller running backs. I actually had a great camp but hurt my ankle so I came back to Chicago to have my doctors check it out. When I got back to Montreal me and him (Trestman) had a sit down. It was kind of funny because in a lot of these different leagues they have other guys that came and get you are going to be released, but he didn't want to release me. We sat down and he said he had a vision for this team and, 'I want you to be a part of it because I respect you as a leader and as a man'. That kind of got me.
"I knew he was a man of character. He truly is. He's one of these guys where you get around him and you respect him, not just as a person and coach, but as a man. For him to sit me down and talk to me just spoke volumes of the kind of person he was."
Because of the way CFL contracts are structured, Payton still went ahead and secured his release from Montreal, but the time he spent with the new Bears head coach convinced him that Trestman's offensive credentials are legitimate. Payton described the type of offense Trestman ran in Montreal, with the caveat that CFL rules and field dimensions are slightly different than the NFL.
"You see, like the San Francisco 49ers, some of the pistol offense, the zone read," Payton said. "A lot of the offense he implemented up in Montreal was that zone read. We had a quarterback named Anthony Calvillo (a two-time CFL MVP). If you don't know who Anthony Calvillo is, go to Wikipedia. He is like the Joe Montana of the CFL. What Trestman did to resurrect Anthony's career…he took him to a whole new level. Trestman is a very smart guy. I know I've been hearing a lot of people talk about him and that he overthinks, I don't think so. He's a smart guy who likes to do things his way, but he's also a players' coach. With the media, he'll get comfortable eventually. And when he gets comfortable in his new surroundings, you are going to start seeing that success.
"People in Chicago seem to want that wow factor in a head coach. A guy who is nice to the media. They need to focus on who is the best head coach, and I think Trestman has all the qualities Bears fans will want in a head coach. Marc has that in him to relate to the players. He's in this for the long haul."