Sean Payton's nightmare is going to be lived out by the Steelers in 2024

This is the attention Sean Payton tried to avoid...
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

So much was made in the 2023 offseason of Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton ripping the 2022 coaching staff and the way things had been done by the previous regime. Payton was working with the media during the 2022 season and saw the way the Broncos -- as a franchise -- got embarrassed from the outside looking in.

When he took over as the team's head coach, he began peeing on trees, as he recently put it. In comments made to USA Today, Payton made it clear that part of the issue with the 2022 Broncos was all the "pomp and circumstance" after the acquisition of Russell Wilson at quarterback. He even said that everything he heard about the 2022 season with the Broncos, he was going to do the opposite.

"It doesn't happen often where an NFL team or organization gets embarrassed. And that happened here. Part of it was their own fault, relative to spending so much [expletive] time trying to win the offseason -- the PR, the pomp and circumstance, marching people around and all this stuff.

We're not doing any of that. The Jets did that this year. You watch. 'Hard Knocks,' all of it. I can see it coming."

Sean Payton, 2023

Now, in 2024, the Pittsburgh Steelers are getting ready to live out Payton's worst nightmare. At least, from a year ago at this time.

Not only are the Steelers going to have the added publicity that already comes with having Russell Wilson as their quarterback, but they will be one of the featured teams on HBO's Hard Knocks in 2024, a first-ever in-season look from the show at teams which will feature the entire AFC North.

The reason why Sean Payton didn't want this last year for the Broncos is because of the fact that the team already had enough negative publicity. There was no need to add to it with the way Wilson got dragged around by the media during his horrendous 2022 campaign, which was plagued by injuries and on-field disaster. To his credit, Payton wasn't taking any shots at Russell Wilson with the things he said last year around this time, but at the coaching staff.

He compared the coaching staff to "parents" who allowed what transpired during that 2022 season to happen. He noted that the offense couldn't even get a play call in on time. He said there were "20 dirty hands for what was allowed." Part of it was certainly Wilson's fault, but Payton was adamant last summer that Russ still had it in him, that the guy we'd all known for 10 years in Seattle didn't vanish off the face of the earth.

But the last thing the Broncos needed last year was a behind-the-scenes look at everything going on, and now the Steelers are getting that. What happens if there is turmoil during the season for Pittsburgh? What happens if there is a change at quarterback from Russell Wilson to Justin Fields?

The reality the Steelers face with the HBO crew following them around is Payton's 2023 nightmare.