- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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METAIRE, La. -- New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has an interesting perspective on the recent health scares involving coaches John Fox and Gary Kubiak. For one thing, Payton has a personal relationship with both coaches -- especially Fox, whom he said is “as close a friend as I have in this business,” dating back to their days as assistants with the New York Giants.
For another thing, Payton has radically changed his own lifestyle over the past two years when it comes to exercise and eating habits -- one of the benefits that came from his season-long suspension. Payton got in the best shape of his life through a fervent commitment to the CrossFit workout program, and he’ll often find a CrossFit gym on road trips to keep up with it.
“I hope both of 'em get back out there as soon as they can and when they can. Certainly there's a demand, and you try to find that balance from a health standpoint,” Payton said. “It’s a tough one, because by nature of that job -- and it’s not just the NFL but college and high school -- that job is competitive, and [head coaches] have gotten probably to those positions because of hard work. So you’re just trying to make sure you have that balance. And that’s difficult.”
When asked if he thinks more attention should or will be paid to monitoring the health of coaches, Payton said he’s not sure, especially since the coaches don’t have a union that collectively bargains with the NFL like the players do.
“Well, they can’t have a union. The [coaches’] association is what it is. I don’t know that that is something that will come of it. Maybe it will. Who knows,” Payton said. “But, you know, I think oftentimes maybe there’s a scare or something that might take place, and it can change a little bit of your perspective.
“With regards to me the last year and a half, coming back and just trying to look at things a little differently and trying to stay active and trying to eat less or eat right, those are challenges any time you’re traveling or working late hours. It’s hard to eat the right stuff to begin with, then to do it on a schedule when you’re traveling or up late is more difficult. But I think it’s good that it’s been brought to the attention.”