New York Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett addressed critical comments made by Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton publicly for the first time following the Jets' training camp session on Tuesday (August 1).
Payton, who was hired as the Broncos' head coach in January, one month after the team fired Hackett from the same position, said the team experienced "one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL" last season during a recent interview with USA TODAY.
Hackett said he felt Payton took aim at him and violated a coaches' code, but was expecting it ahead of the October 5 matchup between the Jets and Broncos in Week 5 of the upcoming NFL season, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.
“Almost thankful we got that out of the way, we understand the way certain people feel and think,“ Hackett said via Garafolo.
Hackett also said Payton hadn't called him to apologize and doesn't believe he will. Payton has publicly referred to mentioning Hackett as "a mistake."
"Listen, I had one of those moments where I still had my Fox [network television] hat on and not my coaching hat on," Payton said Friday (July 28) via ESPN. "I said this to the team: We've had a great offseason relative to that, I've been preaching that message, and here I am the veteran stepping in it. It was a learning experience for me, a mistake obviously. I need a little bit more filter."
On Sunday (July 30), Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who had previously played under Hackett for three seasons during his tenure as the Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator, bashed Payton in defense of the veteran coach.
"I love Nathaniel Hackett and those comments were very surprising, for a coach to do that to another coach," Rodgers told NFL Network's Peter Schrager at the Jets' training camp on Sunday (July 30). "My love for Hack goes deep. We had some great years together in Green Bay, kept in touch. Love him and his family, he's an incredible family man, incredible dad.
"And on the field, he's arguably my favorite coach I've ever had in the NFL, just his approach to it, how he makes it fun, how he cares about the guys, just how he goes about his business with respect, with leadership, with honesty, with integrity and it made me feel bad that someone who's accomplished a lot in the league is that insecure that they have to take another man down to set themselves up for some sort of easy fall if it doesn't go well for that team this year. I thought it was way out of line, inappropriate and I think he needs to keep my coaches' names out of his mouth."
Hackett was fired by the Broncos after a 5-12 overall record in 2022. The 43-year-old was regarded as a rising offensive coach prior to being hired by Denver, having previously coached the Packers from 2019-2021, which included Rodgers leading the league's top scoring offense during the first of two consecutive Associated Press Most Valuable Player award-winning seasons in 2020.
Hackett was hired as the Jets' offensive coordinator this offseason amid speculation that the franchise had mutual interest with Rodgers, which he later publicly confirmed, ahead of an official trade in April.