Victor native Seth Payne finds pleasure
in new radio career
written by Leo Roth, Sports Columnist, Democrat and Chronicle, September 19, 2013
Seth Payne always had a great name for football. I mean come on, Seth Payne?
It turns out the Victor High School and Cornell University product has the voice, opinions and personality to be a great sports radio host, too.
Football afterlife can be hard on many players, especially those who have made it to the highest level. Payne played 10 seasons in the NFL, five years each for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans, retiring in 2007.
There was a stint as a business owner but that didn’t last. “I didn’t like firing people,” he said.
There was a stint working in the oil and gas industry in New York’s Southern Tier, living in his wife Brandi’s hometown of Olean, with their daughter, Daylin, 8.
But friends in the media deep in the heart of football-crazed Texas came calling more than a year ago, presenting the popular Payne with a chance to line up behind a microphone. Thus was born the Mad Radio show with co-host Mike Meltzer on SportsRadio 610 in Houston. Payne, 38, also hosts a Sunday night sports television show on the CBS affiliate.
“I’ve found out I have a liking for it,” said Seth, a reporter’s go-to guy as a player who now gets to share his thoughts with millions of listeners. “It’s nice because I can use my football knowledge and not have to deal with the hours and stress of coaching.”
To critique or be critiqued, that is the question? Many an ex-player has found jumping to the dark side of TV and radio a fun way to stay involved in the game. Payne’s David-beats-Goliath background shaped some unique and inspirational viewpoints.
A hard-working farm kid who wasn’t just a rare Ivy Leaguer to get drafted by an NFL team, but someone who lasted a decade in the trenches and was among the league’s best defensive linemen for a spell, notching 246 tackles and 17.5 sacks in 121 career games.
Payne was honored last month with induction into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame. He couldn’t attend because he was working a Texans’ preseason game but his mom, Cynthia, and stepfather, Peter, represented him.
“I wish I could’ve been there but I’m glad they got to go,’’ Payne said. “Without my mom, I wouldn’t have done anything or experienced the things I did in football.”
From NFL brick wall to a brick in the Walk of Fame. “I’ve always felt our area was neglected by college scouts,” said Payne, who didn’t receive a Division I scholarship offer out of high school. “It means a lot to me to be recognized that I was able to go on and achieve some distinction in the game.”
In Jacksonville he played on three playoff teams for Tom Coughlin, the Waterloo native and current New York Giants coach, including a 1999 squad that finished 14-2 and lost the AFC title game to Tennessee. In Houston he lived through “expansion team purgatory” but does cherish the memory of beating the dreaded Dallas Cowboys, 19-10, in the Texans’ very first game (he had six tackles and a safety).
Looking back, every day was OK making a living playing a kids game. He got to face his favorite team, the Buffalo Bills, seven times (2-5 record).
“My clearest memories are facing Doug Flutie and tackling Thurman Thomas, that was one of the coolest things I did in the NFL,” Payne said. “I had a poster of Thurman on my bedroom wall as a kid.”
He still bleeds Bills and admits to the existence of photographs of him wearing “red, white and blue Zubaz pants.”
Here’s Seth Payne, radio talk show host, on:
Tom Coughlin: “One of the happiest things I’ve done in my life, playing for Tom Coughlin and maintaining a relationship. Aside from the lessons he taught me, I’ve gotten to watch him grow. He’s a great example of a person who never stops growing.”
Lions heavily fined defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh: “The things he does are more egregiously stupid than dirty.”
Bills defensive end and former Texan Mario Williams, who before a record 4.5-sack game against Carolina, was heavily criticized: ‘For a guy that big and physical, he’s best in space. I think he’ll get that in Buffalo now in Mike Pettine’s scheme, you’ll see him matched up against single blocks more often, and he should be very productive.”
Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel: “I’ve been high on him. His growth was limited with the scheme they ran at Florida State and he seems to be absorbing things at a faster rate than people thought. It’d be nice, just by probability alone, that Buffalo would strike on a quarterback at some point.’’
On NFL safety: “I never had any delusions about the fact that playing in the NFL was bad for my body. Now if the NFL withheld information that it could be bad for my brain, that’s another matter. Regardless of who is right or wrong, they’ve made advancements in making it safer for kids.”
His Super Bowl picks: “Seattle vs. Denver. We’ve never seen Peyton Manning surrounded by this many weapons. It’s scary.”
You can listen to Seth Payne from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at sportsradio610.com.