CARDINALS

Sean Payton reveals previous connection to Arizona Cardinals amid team's coach speculation

Jeremy Cluff
Arizona Republic
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Several NFL writers have speculated about Sean Payton potentially being the next Arizona Cardinals coach, should the team decide to move on from Kliff Kingsbury.

Many Cardinals fans would love to see the former New Orleans Saints coach work for the team in the near future.

But did you know that Payton has already worked for the Cardinals?

Payton revealed in a recent interview that he was once a ball boy for the Cardinals, when the franchise still resided in St. Louis.

"I was a ball boy for this team," Payton told Colin Cowherd earlier this week. "I'm going to date myself, but when the St. Louis Cardinals, before they were the Arizona Cardinals, their training camp was held at Eastern Illinois where I went to school.  So the early years there in 83, 84, 85 … we cleaned the rooms, bring towels to the rooms, we'd have a summer job."

He added: "Finally, my junior, senior year I handed out rosters and got to eat with the team, work for the team."

More:Sean Payton Cardinals speculation swirls after report links former Saints coach to Arizona

Interestingly, Payton talked about his relationship with the Bidwill family in the interview.

Michael Bidwill is now the owner of the team, inheriting it from his father, Bill Bidwill, who had owned or been a part-owner of the club since 1962.

“I think I know that family well enough,” Payton told Cowherd.

NFL Week 13 picks: Bills vs. Patriots | Steelers vs. Falcons | Broncos vs. Ravens | Packers vs. Bears | Jaguars vs. Lions | Browns vs. Texans | Jets vs. Vikings | Commanders vs. Giants | Titans vs. Eagles | Seahawks vs. Rams | Dolphins vs. 49ers | Chiefs vs. Bengals | Chargers vs. Raiders | Colts vs. Cowboys | Saints vs. Buccaneers

Speculation has swirled around Payton and the Cardinals all season, and it increased after a recent ESPN report included Arizona as a possible destination for the former New Orleans coach.

"Indy and Carolina are already open, and people are watching Denver closely as a potential opening. Arizona is on the watch list if the Cardinals don't turn things around," Dan Graziano wrote. "But my sense is that he'll be picky and will look for a spot where the QB situation is solid, first and foremost. That's why I think a lot of people are connecting him with a potential Chargers opening. People would line up to coach Justin Herbert if that job came open. 

He added:  "If not there, I've been told to watch Arizona as a potential Payton destination (again, assuming there's an opening there). And your point is well taken about the fact that an interested team would actually have to give the Saints some compensation in return for Payton, since he's still under contract with New Orleans."

NFL Week 13 odds: Bills vs. Patriots | Steelers vs. Falcons | Broncos vs. Ravens | Packers vs. Bears | Jaguars vs. Lions | Browns vs. Texans | Jets vs. Vikings | Commanders vs. Giants | Titans vs. Eagles | Seahawks vs. Rams | Dolphins vs. 49ers | Chiefs vs. Bengals | Chargers vs. Raiders | Colts vs. Cowboys | Saints vs. Buccaneers

Could Sean Payton end up being the next coach of the Arizona Cardinals? The speculation won't stop.

Cards Wire's Alex Sutton wrote that it was interesting that Payton did not say anything specifically critical of the Cardinals in his interview.

He wrote: "It’s also worth noting that while he was very critical of other teams, he was non-committal when Cowherd asked negative questions about the Cardinals. He deferred to other teams’ struggles in the segment and did not say anything negative about the team on national radio. Perhaps that’s reading too much into it, but there appears to be a connection between Payton and the Cardinals. There are many steps that need to happen for that pairing to become a reality, but it appears to be trending in the right direction."

The Sean Payton to Cardinals speculation is bound to continue as the Cardinals continue to struggle through a 4-8 season under coach Kliff Kingsbury.

How will it end?

More:Kliff Kingsbury next NFL coach fired? Speculation swirls around Arizona Cardinals coach

Reach Jeremy Cluff at jeremy.cluff@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jeremy_Cluff.

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