NFL

Saints head coach Payton to miss Buccaneers clash with COVID-19

By Sports Desk December 17, 2021

Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints, has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss their game on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Saints are still in the hunt for a playoff place at 6-7 but must now take on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers - who are 6-0 at home and 10-3 for the season so far - without their head coach on the sideline.

The Saints released a statement on Friday confirming the length of Payton's absence due to contracting COVID-19 and revealing that the 57-year-old's vaccination status.

"Saints Head Coach Sean Payton tested positive for Covid-19 and was immediately isolated," the statement read. "He has been fully vaccinated.

"Per NFL protocols, Payton will be out for 10 days unless he meets the league requirements for a fully vaccinated individual to return to the team environment.

"Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen will assume the duties of head coach for the December 19th game at Tampa Bay. Payton will return to coach the December 27th game against the Miami Dolphins."

Payton follows Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski in returning a positive test. The Browns have been hit by a major COVID outbreak and their game with the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday is reportedly in doubt.

Buccaneers quarterback Brady has not beaten the Saints in the regular season since joining Tampa Bay and will be hoping to capitalise on Payton's absence on Sunday.

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