Devonta Freeman not holding grudge against Sean Payton for choke sign
If Devonta Freeman is heading into Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints with a little extra motivation because of what Sean Payton did to him two weeks ago, the star running back is not going to admit it.
When the Atlanta Falcons played the Saints in Week 14, cameras showed Payton making a choking gesture toward Freeman and saying “choke” with New Orleans leading 17-10 in the fourth quarter. After Monday’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Freeman was asked if he would speak to Payton on Sunday if the opportunity arises.
“I’ll talk to him,” the star running back said, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “It ain’t no grudge. I don’t take it personal at all. He’s a competitor. He’s just a top competitor. He loves his job. He’s real passionate about it.”
Freeman’s Falcons ended up coming back to beat Payton’s Saints in the fourth quarter two weeks ago, and Freeman later referenced the rough neighborhood he grew up in and said Payton “don’t know nothing about choking.” He understands Payton’s choking gesture will be a story this week, but he is choosing to take the high road.
“Definitely, definitely, but I don’t get caught up in it,” Freeman said. “I don’t care. I try not to pay attention to it, you feel me? I mean, I don’t really get into it. He’s passionate, like I said. He just loves what he do.”
A lot will be at stake on Sunday, as the Falcons could clinch a playoff spot with a win and New Orleans would remain atop the NFC South if they emerge victorious. Freeman rushed for a season-high 126 yards on 22 carries against the Bucs, bowling over defenders and looking as fresh as ever. Payton will have his hands full trying to stop the man he taunted not too long ago.