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Broncos’ Sean Payton has ‘two middle fingers’ for critics

Sean Payton’s return to coaching was not exactly ceremonious.

Payton was thrust into the spotlight almost immediately as he shut down Russell Wilson’s office at the facility and then criticized the regime before him. Things got even hotter for Payton when the team dropped five out of its first six games of the season.

The Denver Broncos managed to snap their losing streak against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8, but controversy over whether Wilson would remain the starting quarterback and rumors around Jerry Jeudy’s status on the team began to rear their heads. The team finished 8-9.

Going into Payton’s second year with Denver, the Broncos cut Wilson and traded Jeudy to the Cleveland Browns. The team also selected Bo Nix with the No. 12 pick of the draft, a move which shocked the NFL world.

Additionally, for all of his critics, Payton has something for them.

“I think that I have two middle fingers,” he told reporters on Tuesday, via Pro Football Talk. “I’ve gotten better with age not using them. I think it’s more — and I would say this changed for me — it’s more inward focused relative to our own team and what we’re doing. As you get older in this, you don’t waste the calories on certain things that I might’ve back in 2006, ’07, ’08.

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Sean Payton at a pre-draft conference

“I don’t play a lot of video games, but you have ‘X’ amount of battery life and energy, and you try to use it where you think it’s best going to help the team. So, you learn over time to not spend as much on the things you can’t control, certainly lists. 

“If that concerned me, we wouldn’t have drafted Bo Nix where we selected him, if I was paying attention to that. That’s that ‘NFL train’ that no one knows who’s driving, and you have to pay attention to it, but you don’t want to hop on it, or you just start making decisions. … And we still don’t know who’s driving, it’s just going. Really paying attention to your gut, your experience and what you’re seeing. Those are the things that drive me now.”

Denver will have a lot of questions going into training camp, most importantly, the quarterback situation which appears to be a battle between Nix and Zach Wilson.

Sean Payton and Bro Nix in camp

It will be a long few weeks before Denver gets its roster sorted out.

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