It’s no secret that rivalries form against division opponent’s that you play twice a year. This year was no different when the Buccaneers’ division rivalry with the New Orleans Saints added a new wrinkle.
It all began earlier in the season when receiver Mike Evans came to the defense of quarterback Jameis Winston following a sideline spat he had with Saints corner Marshone Lattimore. Evans hit Lattimore in the back with a great deal of force and was suspended for a game by the NFL. Evans later apologized for his actions.
The Buccaneers’ season finale was when things got even more, well, weird. The Buccaneers went on to win the game following Jameis Winston’s late fourth quarter touchdown pass to Chris Godwin. You would think that would be the biggest talking point of the game, but what came after was one of the most tense and awkward coaching exchanges you will ever see. Payton and Koetter met at center field and exchanged aggressive chest-shoves before Payton brought up Evans’ cheap shot and walked away.
Bucs LB Kwon Alexander – Photo by: Mark Cook/PR
Fast forward to the Pro Bowl and Sean Payton is the coach of the NFC team with two Buccaneers on his roster.
First time Pro Bowler Kwon Alexander laughingly spoke about Payton’s dust up with Koetter following a relaxed practice in Orlando.
“I’m going to leave that between those two,” Alexander said. “I don’t want to get in that. He (Payton) is my coach right now, so we’re just going to let that chill for right now.”
Alexander was also asked about his experience going up against Payton and his propensity for trash talking opponents.
““Yeah, well, I like to talk smack too,” the Pro Bowl linebacker said. “We’ll just keep that during the regular season.”
Despite the exchange, Payton quelled any animosity between the two coaches following the NFC’s practice on Wednesday.
“He’s a great coach and a good friend,” Payton told ESPN’s Jenna Laine.“When you get into these games, you just get going 100 miles an hour .I know he’s building his team, and I like just meeting some of [Koetter’s] guys who are out here. But it’s all good.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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