The New Orleans Saints can’t seem to get a break as of late.
Just when it couldn’t get worse, Sean Payton is stepping down as head coach after 16 seasons.
He had time to think about this decision and decided it was time for him to part ways with the franchise he helped transform.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) January 26, 2022
The former quarterback must have felt burned out after essentially coaching non-stop for 16 years.
Likewise, the team’s salary cap deficit might have persuaded him to walk away.
One thing’s for sure, regardless of his reason.
He already has a spot at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Payton Is A Proven Winner
Winning the Super Bowl is the best credential a head coach can have to enter the Hall of Fame.
Payton got his title in Super Bowl XLIV when they came from behind against the Indianapolis Colts.
He also gets extra consideration for having the guts to call for an onside kick to open the second half.
But his winning legacy with the Saints went beyond one season.
He turned the Saints from being perennial losers to legitimate contenders.
Sean Payton changed the entire perception of the Saints as a franchise. He deserves nothing but praise and gratitude from Saints fans. He has to do what’s best for him in his life. It was a great ride. Sad to see it end, (if it’s over) but thrilled that it happened. #whodat ⚜️
— stan verrett (@stanverrett) January 25, 2022
Payton already led the team to a division title in his first year in The Big Easy, earning him Coach of the Year honors.
He and the Saints won six more NFC South crowns after 2006 and had three appearances in the NFC Championship Game.
Under him, New Orleans had nine seasons of at least ten wins.
His partnership with Brees also generated the second-most wins for a quarterback-head coach tandem in the Super Bowl era.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) January 27, 2022
Payton always gave the Saints a winning chance by constantly developing his players.
Under his guidance, Brees, Jammal Brown, Jahri Evans, Mike Karney, Jon Stinchcomb, Carl Nicks, Jimmy Graham, Ryan Ramczyk, Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Alvin Kamara became Pro Bowlers or All-Pros.
The emergence of those players proves that he’s the ultimate mentor and motivator.
His Impact Beyond Football
Payton’s achievements are comparable with what the coaches in the Hall of Fame achieved.
But there’s no head coach that meant so much to the city he represented.
He came to New Orleans when things were bleak due to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The team was also in a bad situation when he took over because of their 3-13 record the previous season.
Sean Payton met this afternoon for 35 minutes with the Saints’ football staff to let it know he was moving on. They told stories about the past, and reflected on what they accomplished. Payton told staff he has no current plans for the upcoming season. He has time to figure out.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 25, 2022
In just one year, he delivered hope not only to the team but also to its fans.
Payton gave New Orleans a reason to remain hopeful for a better future, even if daily life told otherwise.
He provided a reason for happiness and pride when their fans felt lost and low.
You could make a pretty strong case that Sean Payton was the best hire an NFL team has made since Bill Belichick in New England. Huge loss for the Saints.
— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) January 25, 2022
For that reason alone, Payton deserves to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.