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Jets OC Nathaniel Hackett says Sean Payton criticism broke the ‘code’

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In his first public comments since Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton ripped his lone head coaching performance, New York Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett told reporters that he felt Payton violated an unwritten “code.” 

In an interview with USA Today, Payton said Hackett’s time as head coach of the Broncos “might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL.” 

Nathaniel Hackett addresses the media

New York Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett speaks to reporters at the team’s NFL football practice facility in Florham Park, N.J., Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023.  (AP Photo/Dennis Waszak Jr.)

“I do,” Hackett said Tuesday when asked if he felt that Payton broke or violated the code. “I do. I just think that within this glass house that we all live … it’s one of those things that it’s very expected. You knew it was going to happen. You knew he was going to handle it that way at some point. It’s how it was going all last year.”

Payton expressed regret for his comments, with the Super Bowl-winning head coach saying he wished he would have shown more restraint. 

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“It was a learning experience for me. It was a mistake, obviously,” Payton told reporters Friday. 

“I needed a little bit more filter. There’s a pound of flesh for these guys and, as a coach, you stick up for them, and after a while, we’re passed that season last year. And I said what I said, and obviously I needed a little bit more restraint. And I regret that.”  

Sean Payton in July 2023

Jul 28, 2023; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton dresses the media after training camp at Centura Health Training Center. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

Hackett, who was fired by the Broncos just 15 games into his tenure, opened his Tuesday press conference by addressing last week’s drama without mentioning Payton by name. 

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“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.” 

“And it’s one of those things that there’s a code, there’s a way things are done in that house,” he continued. “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.”

The Jets and the Broncos face off in Week 5 when New York travels to Denver. 

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Sean Payton looks on at training camp

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton looks on as players take part in drills during an NFL football training camp Thursday, July 27, 2023, in Centennial, Colo.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

“It’s unfortunate that that had to happen, the comments that were made,” Hackett said Tuesday. “But hey, they did. I probably was more surprised that they happened now. 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.”

Hackett said he has not received an apology from Payton and does not expect him to reach out.

“I’ve never met the guy,” Hackett said. 

Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report

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