A year after Katrina, Sean Payton’s hiring gave New Orleans its swagger back
The Saints had just returned to New Orleans after being displaced to San Antonio, Texas for the 2005 season because of Hurricane Katrina. Their future — like that of the city — was still very much uncertain as they entrusted the reins of the team to a young Dallas Cowboys assistant.
Sean Payton has coached with the Saints longer than almost any coach in the NFL. Only two — New England’s Bill Belichick (2000) and Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis (2003) — have coached their current teams longer.
- Payton was one of five candidates to interview for the Saints job. The others were former Rams head coach Mike Martz, former Packers head coach Mike Sherman, then-Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson and then-Browns offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon.
- After the recent shakeup, only one assistant coach remains from Payton’s original staff: offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael.
- Linebacker Scott Fujita was the first free agent to sign with the Saints after Payton was hired. One day later, he was joined by a quarterback named Drew Brees.
Where were you when the Saints won the Super Bowl? It’s a question every New Orleanian can answer. Sunday plans and Monday moods are based on what and how the Saints are doing. For the last 11 years, Payton has been the person most responsible for caretaking that public trust. But Super Bowl XLIV wasn’t just the greatest moment in many long-suffering Saints fans’ lives; it was a critical turning point in the city’s post-Katrina renaissance. Payton restored a battered city’s swagger. Without him, there is no Brees, no “Ambush,” no Lombardi Trophy. Do we believe in miracles? We do now.