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Saints’ Sean Payton says he tested positive for coronavirus
4:20 PM ET
  • Adam SchefterESPN Senior Writer

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    • ESPN NFL Insider
    • Joined ESPN in 2009
    • Former president of the Pro Football Writers of America and the author of four books

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton tested positive for the coronavirus, he told ESPN on Thursday.

Payton, 56, is the first person in the NFL world known to test positive for the virus.

Payton said he didn’t feel well this past Sunday, took the test Monday, and received the results Thursday afternoon. Payton is resting at home, fatigued, but said he is part of the 20 percent of the cases that have no fever and no cough. But he will self-quarantine in his home through the weekend, and he said he is upbeat and optimistic about a full recovery.

Appreciate the well wishes. I’m feeling better and fortunate to not have any of the respiratory symptoms. 4 more days at home.#BEATCovid pic.twitter.com/vvjbnqoeZx

— Sean Payton (@SeanPayton) March 19, 2020

Payton said he came forward with the diagnosis because he wants all people to heed the warnings of government 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.”

The virus has spread throughout the world, and Louisiana has been one of the most infected states.

“The concern with Louisiana is the amount of people that come in and out of this area after Mardi Gras season,” Payton said. “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.

“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.”

The Saints’ staff has not met collectively since early last week and most started working from home last Thursday and Friday.

Payton did travel to Oaklawn Race track in Arkansas for races there Saturday. New Orleans-based thoroughbred trainer Tom Amoss said he had spent time with Payton there and would self-quarantine and get tested as soon as possible.

In a statement Thursday night, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league’s primary concern is Payton’s “health and well-being.”

“He did the right thing by seeking medical attention and we wish him a speedy recovery,” Goodell said.

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise as this pandemic continues that members of our NFL family will be directly impacted. This news underscores the importance of everyone following the advice from medical and public health experts to protect themselves and others.”

ESPN’s Mike Triplett contributed to this report.

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