Sean Payton’s Message to Loyola Graduates: “You Need to Get to Work” | News
Sean Payton’s message to Loyola University’s Class of 2022 was similar to those he delivered to his players during a 16-year tenure as coach of the New Orleans Saints.
During his keynote address at Lakefront Arena on Saturday night, Payton talked about courage, determination and resilience — traits, he said, that apply to all walks of life, not just the soccer.
Payton spoke to the 816 graduates gathered before him about a video he showed his Saints team before the start of the season last year that showed baby iguanas hatching in the sand of the Galapagos Islands and were immediately preyed upon of a horde of menacing serpents lying in Wait.
“A third of the iguanas are eaten before they can get to safety, so here’s the thing: you gotta get to work,” Payton said, prompting a burst of cheers and hoarse laughter from the crowd. lively.
Payton drew several laughs during his 10-minute speech, which was delivered off the cuff and in Payton’s classic, improvisational style. He declined the use of a teleprompter and spoke without a script, using only seven index cards to guide him to his various talking points.
Payton told the crowd that he met actor Andy Garcia backstage before the ceremony and how fun it was to talk to the famous movie star. “And then I realized I was wearing a bonnet,” Payton joked, referring to the traditional soft velvet tam he wore with his formal dress.
Later, Payton quoted the lyrics to the 1997 song “Tubthumping” by British rock band Chumbawamba: “I get knocked down, but I get back up. You will never hold me back.
“Man, I wish I could sing,” Payton said. “But if there’s one thing I could pass on to you about the secret to my success and our success, it would be this ability to constantly pick yourself up.”
Payton said he was impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of the Class of 2022, which included graduates from 43 states and 13 countries. The class was made up of artists, entrepreneurs, musicians, journalists, mathematicians, nurses, scientists and 63 student-athletes, including seven members of the 2022 NAIA National Championship Basketball Team from Loyola.
Among the graduates in the crowd for the two-and-a-half-hour ceremony was Payton’s wife, Skylene Montgomery, who earned her master’s degree in nursing.
Payton even read the graduation card he bought for Montgomery earlier in the day, but said he forgot to present it to her in the rush to prepare for the ceremony.
“Skylene, you did it!” Payton said, reading from the credit card. “I am so amazed by you and so happy for you. I love you in pieces.
Payton said he teased Montgomery on Friday night that he was going to recognize her at the ceremony and make her stand in front of the crowd.
“She was mortified,” Payton joked. “She said we would be divorced before the ceremony was over.”
Ahead of her speech, Loyola President Tania Tetlow presented Payton with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters “for her commitment to excellence, transformative leadership, and service to the city of New Orleans.” New Orleans Chief Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Avegno, Reverend Gregory Boyle, Holocaust survivor Anne Levy and musician George Porter Jr. also received honorary degrees.
After graduating, Porter delighted the crowd by pulling out his bass guitar and performing a combination of songs from his storied career: “A Message from the Meters” and “Crying for Hope.”
Payton left the Saints in January as the winningest coach in franchise history. In 15 seasons, he posted a 152-89 regular season record and led the Saints to nine playoff appearances. He coached the club to its only Super Bowl championship.
Since quitting, he said he has kept himself busy by playing a lot of golf and traveling to places like the Bahamas and Miami, where he was among the crowds to watch the Miami Grand Prix. He’s being interviewed with major broadcast networks for a studio analyst position, which is expected to be officially announced next week. He and Montgomery recently completed their move to a condo in downtown New Orleans. The couple plans to spend the summer at their lakeside home in Idaho.
Payton said it was the first time he had been asked to give a keynote speech and said he was delighted to accept for obvious reasons. He only hesitated because he didn’t want his presence to overshadow his wife’s success.
“It’s his day,” Payton said. “I watched her, working at the computer for countless hours. It’s overwhelming, an incredible amount of work. I am so proud of her and what she has accomplished. This is why there are not many (of these degrees).
It was a special night for the Paytons. Montgomery’s parents, Skylar and Darlene Montgomery, attended the ceremony after traveling to New Orleans from their home in West Virginia.
“It’s not every day that your husband is asked to participate in an event like this,” said Skylene Montgomery. “At first he didn’t want to upstage me, but I saw this as an opportunity to make the event even more special.