Head coach Jim Haslett and one-time star quarterback Aaron Brooks were out of the door so fast that it didn’t even have time to hit them on the way out.
Sean Payton, an assistant of Bill Parcells in Dallas, was soon hired as the team’s new head coach.
After his time as the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants, Payton was regarded around the league as “damaged goods” because head coach Jim Fassel had taken over the playcalling and the Giants had suddenly got hot.
Then Payton was summoned to Dallas by the Tuna where he was named a candidate for the head coaching job of the Oakland Raiders after only a season with the ‘Boys.
Payton declined the job and stayed around in Dallas until the Saints came calling.
With Payton in place, the Black and Gold started looking for a quarterback. Matt Leinhart, Vince Young, and Jay Cutler were all going to be available in the draft in which the Saints had the second overall pick.
After courting Brees, the Saints were finally able to sign him. They used that draft pick to take Reggie Bush, who was regarded as one of the best college football players of his time.
Many Saints fans saw Bush as their hero, the guy who would lift New Orleans out of the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina singlehandedly.
Bush did help, but the big reason for the Saints’ first ever NFC Championship appearance was Drew Brees, who was coming off a major shoulder injury.
Brees was named to the Pro Bowl that year as was he this year. He fell 16 yards short of Dan Marino’s single-season yardage record and became only the second quarterback, other than Marino, to throw for over 5,000 yards in a single season. He was also named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year.
With his great performances on Sunday, Brees could get by with a bad attitude but instead, he chooses to help his adopted hometown through the the Brees Dream Foundation as well as through other ways.
In a poll conducted by Sports Illustrated, Brees was named one of the NFL’s friendliest players along with his former teammate, LaDainian Tomlinson.
Drew Brees is truly a quarterback extraordinaire.