On January 18, 2006, Saints owner Tom Benson made a hire that would change the direction of his franchise. Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach Sean Payton beat out the likes of Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, Browns offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, former Packers head coach Mike Sherman and former Rams head coach Mike Martz.
The Green Bay Packers almost got Payton first, but went with Mike McCarthy instead.
It’s pretty clear Benson made the right call.
Payton wasted no time changing the Saints’ fortunes. Coming off a 3-13 Katrina-marred season, Payton led the team to a 10-6 record and an appearance in the NFC Championship against the Chicago Bears. Three years later the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV.
As the team’s 14th head coach, Payton has compiled an 80-48 regular season record and a 6-4 mark in the playoffs.
Here is the front page of the Times-Picayune the day after Payton was hired.