Sean Payton, the long-time Saints head coach, blamed the fatal shooting of former defensive end Will Smith last weekend on lax gun laws, New Orleans’ high crime rate, and gun culture.
An Ohio State standout, Smith was picked in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Saints and played for them his entire career, including the franchise’s only Super Bowl appearance before leaving the team in the wake of the Saints 2012 bounty scandal. The former player was allegedly shot to death by 28-year-old Cardell Hayes in the Crescent City’s upscale Garden District following an apparent road range altercation. Hayes has since been charged with second-degree murder.
But it was not Hayes who Payton, who is admittedly anti-gun, called out for Smith’s death.
In an extensive interview with USA Today Sports‘ Jarrett Bell, the focus was guns.
“I’m not an extreme liberal,” Payton said. “I find myself leaning to the right on some issues. But on this issue, I can’t wrap my brain around it.”
Continuing, Payton acknowledged New Orleans had an extensive crime problem, but he nonetheless scoffed at the need for private firearms ownership.
“Two hundred years from now, they’re going to look back and say, ‘What was that madness about?’” Payton said. “The idea that we need them to fend off intruders … people are more apt to draw them (in other situations). That’s some silly stuff we’re hanging on to.”