New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has tested positive for coronavirus.
The 56-year-old coach confirmed his diagnosis with ESPN on Thursday, becoming the first known case within the NFL’s ranks.
Payton said he wasn’t feeling well Sunday, got tested Monday and received his results Thursday. He said he feels fatigued, but has no fever or cough. He is resting at home under quarantine and is optimistic about making a full recovery.
He told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he came forward with his diagnosis because he wants everyone to heed the warnings of government and health officials, stay inside and behave responsibly.
“This is not just about social distancing,” Payton told ESPN. “It’s shutting down here for a week to two weeks. If people understand the curve, and understand the bump, we can easily work together as a country to reduce it. Take a minute to understand what the experts are saying. It’s not complicated to do what they’re asking of us. Just that type of small investment by every one of us will have a dramatic impact.
“I was fortunate to be in the minority, without the serious side effects that some have. I’m lucky. Younger people feel like they can handle this, but they can be a carrier to someone who can’t handle it. So we all need to do our part. It’s important for every one of us to do our part.”
Louisiana hit hard by pandemic
Payton has compiled a 131-77 record in 13 seasons with the Saints. He led New Orleans to the franchise’s only Super Bowl championship during the 2009 season.
The Saints went 13-3 and won the NFC South division title for the third straight season in 2019 before losing to the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs.
Louisiana has been one of the states hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 347 known cases and eight deaths as of Thursday, according to CNN.
“The concern with Louisiana is the amount of people that come in and out of this area after Mardi Gras season. This is an area that doctors are concerned about. So our parents, and those that are more susceptible to this virus, deserve everyone doing their best to combat it,” Payton told ESPN.
“There are hundreds of people right now in tough predicaments, fighting for their lives. Let’s be part of the solution, not the problem. We can easily help reduce the numbers of those impacted. We have to do our best to beat this and I know we can.”