THE ICON: Sean Payton
THE LEGACY: He knew the job wouldn’t be easy. NFL teams seldom, if ever, hire a new head coach when times are good, after all. But when the historically hapless New Orleans Saints made Sean Payton the team’s 14th skipper on Jan. 18, 2006, he wasn’t just taking over a team with a tradition of losing. He was taking on the burden of trying to deliver a sense of hope to a demoralized city still on its knees from Hurricane Katrina, which had hit less than five months earlier. With his blend of cocksure energy and football smarts — not to mention a riverboat gambler’s mentality that made him a perfect match for the Crescent City — Payton would set about turning all that around. Four seasons later, Payton and his team would deliver the once-unthinkable: a Saints Super Bowl victory, and in the process restore an entire city’s belief in itself.
THE ARTIST: Queen Hope Parker
THE INSPIRATION: “There’s something about this city, and you hear that initially. And, look, there was a lot back then that was uniquely different because of post-Katrina, but there is something unique and different. Here I am, and nothing’s changing. I plan on finishing my career here.” — Sean Payton, in a press conference after the 2015 season