CSC Book Review: Sean Payton's 'Home Team'

NEW ORLEANS - JUNE 16: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints shows off his ring from Superbowl XLIV on June 16, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Just finished reading Sean Payton's book, Home Team: Coaching the Saints and New Orleans Back to Life. I would have finished earlier but I was never offered an advanced copy. What's up with that? Since everyone and their mother has already written their own review and shared the more interesting stories in the book, well, why should I be any different? I'll keep it simple and hopefully address points that haven't been covered.  

It's a pretty short book, about 290 pages, and not difficult to read. I haven't buried my nose in many books during my lifetime but my wife says the print is pretty big. She's the reader so I'll take her word on that. The story picks up with Payton in college and covers his entire coaching career through Super Bowl XLIV. It's broken into 36 chapters, each one short, to the point and with a bland title. Take chapters ten through fourteen for instance, titled Getting Drew, Getting Reggie, Getting Ready, Getting Shot and Getting Wet respectively. Maybe I'm missing something?

One of the more interesting personal stories is revealed early in the book, after Payton takes a position as quarterbacks coach of the NY Giants. In 2001 the team had a Monday Night Football game in Denver on September 10th and flew home overnight, arriving at Newark airport at 6:45am the morning of September 11th. They didn't know it at the time, but the plane taking off from the gate next to them just 45 minutes later would be United Airlines Flight 93, the hijacked plane that crashed in a Pennsylvania field. 

So here we are at the gate, and the plane next to ours was the one that would shortly be boarded by the terrorists. 

What also stands out is Payton's love and respect for Bill Parcells. If you've been paying attention these last few years, you would know he admires the former coach greatly. This book confirms that tenfold, giving the impression that Payton is borderline obsessed with the man, always thinking Parcells knows best. He even admits later in the book that while preparing for the Super Bowl, assistant coaches were inevitably saying to themselves... 

"Ugh! We have a thousand things going on here, and he's talking to Parcells again."

Readers get a sense of Payton's view of Parcells not only as an invaluable mentor but even as a father figure...

They came to practice and just hung out. It was awesome having Bill there. He had a chance to watch us. He looked exactly like a proud dad.

Other than that, everything you've probably read about the book rings true. A couple of weeks ago, USA Today pointed out Payton's post-Super Bowl narration and the copious amounts of liquor flowing at the victory party that night. Alcohol actually seems to be a recurring theme throughout the entire book, not just in the 'boozy aftermath' of the Super Bowl, sometimes as the center of a story and sometimes mentioned in passing.  

The book ends with the roster and coaching staff list of not only the 2009 Super Bowl champion Saints team but also the 2006 team, which I thought was curious and perhaps Payton's way of pointing out the importance of that first, turnaround season as well. 

All in all, it's a must read for every Saints fan. If not for the interesting behind-the-scenes anecdotes Payton reveals about the first four years of his tenure with the team, than for a better understanding of the man who has been steering this ship - beyond his furtive press conference answers - and how he got here. Did you know that Payton was the first player ever traded or sold in the Arena Football League? Read the book, you bum. 

Now it's time to turn it over to you guys. Who else has read it or is currently reading it? What do you guys think? 

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