THOUSAND OAKS, Ventura County — Marcus Peters stood at a podium Wednesday and spoke about his respect for Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints. He insisted his feisty comments about the coach two months ago had been misinterpreted and blown out of proportion.
And then his coach popped up in the back of the room.
“Let me get some of that soup!” Sean McVay yelled.
One way or another, gumbo will be served at the NFC championship game.
As the Saints and the Los Angeles Rams began their preparation for Sunday’s showdown, Peters and Payton downplayed the importance of what occurred during and after the teams’ first meeting at the Superdome this season. The cornerback and the coach expressed a warm mutual regard and no hard feelings from November.
“We’re trying to play a game,” Peters, an Oakland native and McClymonds High grad, said Wednesday. “We ain’t trying to talk about no gumbo. We can talk about all that stuff afterward.”
Still, here’s the backstory on the Creole kerfuffle, for those with an appetite:
New Orleans beat the Rams 45-35, with Drew Brees shredding L.A.’s secondary for 346 yards and four TDs while handing the Rams their first loss of the season. In particular, receiver Michael Thomas appeared to dominate his matchup with Peters, who acknowledges he had a poor game.
Afterward, Payton acknowledged the Saints had targeted Peters because they liked the matchup with Thomas — a bold statement to make about a former Pro Bowler. That drew the attention of Peters, who responded sharply.
“Tell Sean Payton, keep talking that (stuff),” Peters said at the time. “We’re going to see him soon. You feel me? Yeah. ‘Cause I like what he was saying on the sideline, too. Tell him he can keep talking that (stuff), and I hope he sees me soon. You feel me? Then we’re going to have a good little, nice little bowl of gumbo together.”
Peters says his comments weren’t meant “to be disrespectful or anything like that. I was (ticked) off. I didn’t have the game that I wanted to have.”
Before McVay made light of the situation with his shout, he put it in perspective.
“I think it was all in good fun,” McVay said. “I think there’s a competitiveness that exists. There’s a lot of dialogue that goes back and forth when you have relationships or you have history with people. I think Marcus was having fun with it, and I know that he has a whole lot of respect for Coach Payton and the Saints.”
The gumbo date might not happen, but what occurred in the teams’ first meeting should have reverberations into the playoff rematch, where cornerback Aqib Talib will be back alongside Peters after missing the first meeting because of an injury.
Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore said Peters should be much more concerned about Thomas than Payton.
“He still has to guard Mike at the end of the day,” Lattimore said. “The last time, (Thomas) went for 211 (yards). You still have to go out there and get the job done, no matter how much you talk. … I like Marcus Peters’ game, but you still have to go out there and play.”
Greg Beacham is an Associated Press writer.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Rams-Marcus-Peters-welcomes-second-chance-to-13540141.php.