Sean Payton's Walmart comment about tryout QB goes viral

Seattle Sea Dragons v DC Defenders
Seattle Sea Dragons v DC Defenders / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Life in the NFL is pretty tough. One second, your head coach might be talking you up to the owner of the team, and the next second you're throwing a pick-six and hearing you might have a future as a Walmart greeter if things don't work out as a pro ball player. That was part of a pretty crazy experience last weekend for Denver Broncos tryout QB Ben DiNucci, fresh off of a really productive season in the XFL. DiNucci had caught the eye of Broncos head coach Sean Payton, in a positive way, to the point that Payton was talking the young QB up to owner Greg Penner.

Penner, of course, is part of the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group with the Denver Broncos but also CEO of Walmart. Penner has been very hands-on as owner of the Denver Broncos, something you love to see with how much players loved that aspect of the late Pat Bowlen's ownership when he was in chage of the team.

For the owner to be on the field at rookie minicamp? Well, it certainly makes for a pressure-packed situation for a player like Ben DiNucci, who is simply looking for a way back into the NFL.

Things must have been looking really great for DiNucci throughout the course of his tryout with the Denver Broncos, because Sean Payton made a comment about him during the media availability over the weekend that kind of went viral, at least among Broncos Country.

"Unfortunately for Ben DiNucci, it was his first interception and there was more to that interception if you looked at it. it was good play by [ILB Drew] Sanders and it was right in front of [Owner & CEO] Greg Penner. I was telling Greg before practice how this Ben DiNucci was doing well. I told Ben—I said, ‘You know, he owns Walmart. If it doesn't work out here, I’m sure there’s a greeting opportunity somewhere at one of his local stores.’ (laughs)"

Sean Payton (via Broncos PR)

The comment made its way throughout the media and a lot of people took it as a threatening statement by Payton as opposed to a tongue-in-cheek comment that was extremely unserious and borderline endearing toward DiNucci, if you actually listened to Payton when he was talking about it.

The big story out of OTAs was Drew Sanders picking off the pass from DiNucci and just generally looking really impressive. The third-round pick out of Arkansas is a hulking presence at 6-foot-5, and pretty atypical when you talk about that kind of size at the linebacker position. Although Sanders stole many of the headlines from the first rookie minicamp, there was perhaps no bigger winner than DiNucci, Walmart comment and all.

For a coach to make a comment like that about you publicly, you've got to know you're doing something right. There's no need to make a mountain of hyperbole out of the mole hill that is a rookie minicamp or tryout for a player like DiNucci, but anytime you add players at the QB position in the NFL, it's undoubtedly worth noting.

What kinds of players does Sean Payton want to invest in? DiNucci has a bit of the "playmaker" gene to him and you could see that watching him play for the Seattle Sea Dragons in the XFL this past season.

As soon as Payton brought up the fact that he was talking up DiNucci to Greg Penner, you knew DiNucci was coming away from the weekend tryout with a contract. Now, the question is, will he come away with a 53-man roster spot?

The Broncos have not typically carried three quarterbacks in recent years, but in light of what we saw last year with the 49ers and in light of what we saw even with the Broncos and Russell Wilson dealing with so many injuries, would it really be all that surprising to see Denver keep three quarterbacks?

Ben DiNucci was a 7th-round pick of the Cowboys in 2020. He has gotten the chance in preseason play the last couple of years and now in the XFL to get some much-needed on-field reps and I think undoubtedly add some value to a QB room. His competition, for the time being, is young Jarrett Guarantano, a player the Broncos picked up last year near the end of the season.

The focus right now is going to be on getting Russell Wilson right, and we also know that Sean Payton really likes Jarrett Stidham. But you don't just see coaches do this kind of public ribbing of a player unless they really like them.

Next. Grading the full Broncos roster by position after the 2023 Draft. dark