The Bookworm Sez 9-27-10 |

The Bookworm Sez 9-27-10

You love a good challenge.

A major, multi-part project? Bring it on. A 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle? More is better. A brain-buster that’s unsolvable? The “U” word is not in your vocabulary. Sunday crosswords? Pfffffffft, please.

Woe to the person who tells you something can’t be done.

If you love a good challenge, then you’ll empathize with author Sean Payton. In his new book “Home Team: Coaching The Saints and New Orleans Back to Life” (with Ellis Henican), Payton writes about four seasons with a football team that blew the critics away.

Though Sean Payton claims Naperville, Ill., as his home town, his childhood was actually spent in several towns, in several states. That wanderlust served him well when, post-college and after a one-day stint with the Kansas City Chiefs, he decided that he wanted to be a coach.

Payton’s first interview was with UNLV, but he was turned down for the job. Word got back to the offensive line coach at San Diego State that Payton was looking for a position and “just like that, my football coaching career had begun.”

Coaches, it seems, belong to a “small fraternity” where referral is everything, and cultivating a relationship with a moving crew is mandatory. Two years after San Diego, Payton and his wife went to Ohio. Then to Illinois, Maryland, Philadelphia, New York, and to Texas to work with Bill Parcells, coach of the Cowboys and Payton’s future mentor. Payton almost landed in Oakland, but better things were to come: the Saints came marching into his life.

Payton’s first impression of New Orleans was of blue tarps: four months after Katrina, he was astounded at the devastation and had no intention of taking the job for which he was about to interview. But during a tour of the city and a blunt-talk meeting in which unpleasant aspects were presented along with the benefits of taking the position, the slow dawning came: Becoming head coach for the Saints was a challenge Payton couldn’t pass up.

And so, embracing the job, Payton began building a team – coaches, players, and staff – from the soggy ground, up.

Who doesn’t relish a story with a good happily-ever-after? If you do – and you don’t mind a little righteous (yet hard-earned) bragging – then you’ll want this book.

Mostly (but not only) for fans of the New Orleans Saints, “Home Team” tells two stories: the birth and rise of a career of a man who has the guts to hone in on his dream, and the rise of a team that almost wasn’t. Authors Sean Payton and Ellis Henican give football watchers a behind-the-scenes peek at what goes into becoming a coach. Then they move to the heart of this book and a wonderful underdog tale that will make you cheer like you did last January.

No matter what colors you wear on Sunday afternoon, it’s hard not to delight in a book like this one. For the Who Dat Nation or any football fan, loving “Home Team” will be no challenge at all.

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