Jets OC Nathaniel Hackett: Sean Payton violated coaches’ code with comments

By Kevin Patra, Around the NFL Writer

New York Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett took the high road on Tuesday while addressing last week’s takedown courtesy of new Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton.

In his first comments since Payton called Hackett’s coaching job last year in Denver “one of the worst” jobs he’d ever seen, the Gang Green OC told reporters that he felt Payton violated the coaching “code.”

“I’ve been involved in this business my whole life, 43 years, and as a coach, as a coach’s kid, we live in a glass house. We know that,” Hackett said during his scheduled media session. “… And it’s one of those things that there’s a code, there’s a way things are done in that house. This past week, it’s frustrating and it sucks, but we’re all susceptible to it. There are things you do, mistakes you make, and it costs you time on the field, costs you your job, all those things, and I own all that stuff.”

Last week in an interview with Jarrett Bell of USA Today, Payton blasted Hackett’s handling of the Broncos, which went 4-11, before he was fired two weeks before the end of the season — his one and only as Denver’s HC.

Hackett didn’t run from how things turned out in Denver when speaking with reporters on Tuesday, but he has turned the page and is ready to move forward in New York, which includes a Week 5 trip to the Mile High City.

“I’ve got no excuses,” Hackett said. “That’s how we live here at the New York Jets, that’s how we’ve lived everywhere I’ve been — no excuses. So I own all those things. It’s unfortunate that that had to happen, that the comments that were made, but hey, they did. I’ll tell you: I was probably more surprised that they happened now. (I) was definitely expecting them in Week 5, so I’m almost thankful that we got that out of the way. We all understand where certain people feel and think. I’ll tell you, you can always look at that silver lining, and man …

“This organization, these players, the coaches, (Robert) Saleh, just the entire organization, [owner] Woody [Johnson], [president] Hymie [Elhai], [exec Eric] Gelfand, everybody has been unbelievable. I think that’s something that is just awesome. It’s brought our team together, even the old players that I’ve coached very recently, just being able to hear them. It makes you realize that you do this for a very specific reason — for the love of the game, for the love of teaching, for the love of watching people grow. There’s up and downs. Never get too high, never get too low. Gotta love this stuff.”

Hackett said Payton has not reached out to apologize for the comments and doesn’t expect the Broncos coach to do so. “I’ve never met the guy,” he added.

Payton told Broncos reporters last week that he planned to reach out to the Jets at some point, while stating that he regretted the comments he made to USA Today.

“It’s not about me. This game is about no one man,” Hackett said. “I don’t care what anybody says. We’ve got this really cool guy on our team, his name is Aaron Rodgers, really, really good football player, better person. But the brilliance of Aaron is that he knows more people. I know that as a coach we can only control so much in everything that we do no matter what your role is. So it’s not about one guy. Sometimes, things are said that are totally uncalled for, and it does bring the team together, and I think that’s the beautiful thing.”

Even if things calm down ahead of the 2023 season, Payton’s comments regarding Hackett are sure to resurface when Week 5 arrives.

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