Friday, July 23, 2010

Proud to be a Who Dat... even prouder of Sean Payton

I just finished reading Sean Payton's book "Home Team." It is not reaching to say that the book is both easy and satisfying to read... especially if you are a Who Dat.

We members of the Who Dat Nation are standing tall and proud because our beloved team has done what we have all dreamed they would do for as long as we have loved them. It has brought us to an even higher plane of our Who Dat-dom.

Once upon a time, we hoped against hope. We became accustomed to the usual letdown at the end of each season as we said to ourselves, "There's always next year." Not so anymore.

Sean Payton has captured the essence of his own personal journey from the beginning in 2005 when he was hired by Mickey Loomis and Tom Benson to be the head coach of the New Orleans Saints. The rookie head coach of a team whose future was marked with uncertainty and whose past had been plagued by great misfortune and disappointment.

As I turned the pages of this page-turner book of Payton's, it dawned on me that he was letting me in on some things that were so far on the inside of the Saints organization that I felt honored to be reading it all. I found Sean to be humorous and humble, yet confident and daring all at once. Nobody I have ever seen coach a professional football team has ever captivated me like Sean Payton. He's got moxy and style. He's got cajones... major ones. And he's got quiet strength that is overshadowed by the public persona that comes with being an NFL team coach, much less the Super Bowl Champions head coach. I like that he wants his book to be like a conversation he would have in an airport bar with someone, just one on one. That's the kind of personable guy he is. That makes me love him even more.

Some of what he wrote did not come as a surprise because I had already seen it and heard it on (AKA, my beloved Saints fan website. That's pretty astonishing to me because I live far away from NOLA and the Saints stomping grounds. But because of the kindness and hard work of people like james_k_p, St.Chadwick, Kfran, mvtrucking and so many others on this wonderful forum, I got to stay very well-informed and I even got to see every single preseason game, every season game, tons of interviews and local news videos.... all this and so much more. How happy did that make me as a 28-year fan and member of the Who Dat Nation... someone who has never set foot in NOLA (yet) or been to the Superdome? Let me tell you, I have been floating on cloud 9 ever since I found this website and all the friendly Who Dats who are frequent fliers there!

Every week as our team played game after game, I had some great new photo(s) to put up on display in my office. Some of my favorites were the photoshops that somebody did of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick standing on the sidelines during their humiliating defeat on MNF at the Dome. The caption in the balloon above Brady's head read, "Maybe I'm not the best..." and above Belichick's another balloon read "Who Dat." And of course, who can forget the photoshop of a very angry Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith throwing his headset but you didn't see the headset hit the ground, you only saw Matt Ryan crawling on the ground under the raised hand of Smith, looking as if he was getting whipped by his own miserable, pathetic, anger-management-candidate coach. Brilliant stuff.

Every week I got to talk about the game with the guys at work and tell them things they did not know about the Saints and about the game they just played. It was awesome!

But, I digress... back to Payton's book. Tonight as I finished and read the team rosters of the 2006 Saints team and the 2009 Super Bowl XLIV Saints roster, I began to cry. My emotions surprised me as I looked at the names of each player from the 2006 season, who were not there for the Big Show in Miami... but who had been a part of the beginning stages of this incredible team. And my eyes filled with tears. I cannot tell you exactly why I was crying, or why I cry whenever I watch the games again that were so full of emotion.. the NFCCG against the Vikings and Hartley's winning FG that sent us to the Super Bowl... the QB sneak that Drew did in Miami followed by his great dunk over the crossbar of the goal post... Shockey's first TD catch against the Lions in week 1... Meachem's thievery of the previously-intercepted pass to run it back for a momentum-changing TD... so many incredible moments that take my breath away, make me so proud and bring tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.

Sean Payton did a great job with his book. It is definitely a must-read for all Who Dats. You must read this book.

So, I just finished it and was inspired to blog about it. I hope others do the same.

Here's to another magnificent season and run for the prize of another Lombardi for the Saints and NOLA!!


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