In 2020, both Sean Payton and Jon Gruden were fined for not wearing their masks properly during strict COVID-19 protocols.
However, only Gruden actually paid the six-figure fine. Both Gruden and Payton received a $100,000 fine for their mask violations, with additional fines imposed on Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders for other protocol violations.
Before a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium, a picture was taken showing Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints, wearing a mask.
However, Payton never intended to pay the fine and reportedly made fun of Gruden for doing so.
Payton allegedly told Gruden and other coaches who were fined that he refused to pay up, calling Gruden the only foolish one for actually paying the fine.
The league fined the Raiders $500,000, fined Gruden $150,000 and stripped the team of a sixth-round draft pick for COVID-19 violations — and that was after the league had fined the team and Gruden a total of $350,000 for violations earlier in the season. (
Davis offered to pay Gruden’s $150,000 fine, but league officials insisted Gruden pay it personally, which he did.) Livid, Gruden appealed the fines but ended up writing the checks. After he did, his friend Sean Payton, then the Saints’ coach and who also had been fined for COVID-19 violations, called him and laughed.
“I never paid the fine,” Payton told Gruden, adding that other coaches also refused to pay. “You’re the only dumb F that paid the fine.”
In addition to the mask fine, Payton’s New Orleans Saints were also fined $500,000 and docked a seventh-round draft pick in 2021. This was due to a video showing Payton and several players celebrating in the locker room without masks after a big win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 9 of that season.
The Raiders faced even higher fines amounting to $800,000 during the same season, with Gruden personally receiving $250,000 in fines for protocol violations. However, Gruden’s coaching career came to an end in 2021 when he resigned after leaked emails revealed racist, homophobic, and misogynistic comments. On the other hand, Sean Payton has returned as the head coach of the Denver Broncos.