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Payton introduced as new Saints coach

NEW ORLEANS (Jan. 18, 2006) -- Cowboys assistant Sean Payton was introduced as New Orleans Saints head coach, inheriting a team that won three games last season and played all its contests on the road because of Hurricane Katrina.

Payton is taking on his first head coaching job after serving under Bill Parcels at Dallas, where he coached the quarterbacks and also held the title of assistant head coach. Before that, he was a New York Giants assistant, a stint that included that team's NFC championship in 2000.

"I believe we've hired a head coach that has what it takes to bring a championship to this city," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said at a news conference.

Payton succeeds Jim Haslett, whose tenure lasted six years. The Saints went 3-13 in 2005, but were a .500 team during Haslett's first five seasons combined. The victories include the team's only playoff win.

Payton, the Saints' 14th head coach, acknowledged the problems caused by Katrina -- for the team and the New Orleans area.

"Obviously 2005 was a traumatic year for this area, it was a tough time for this team. I hope that in some small way the effort of this team in 2006 and beyond will represent this city and this region well," Payton said.

In addition to coaching quarterbacks, Payton had a very brief pro playing career at that position in the CFL and as a Chicago Bears replacement player in the 1987 strike season.

Aaron Brooks, the Saints' starter for most of the past six seasons, had his worst season in 2005 and was benched for the final three games. If the Saints keep Brooks they would owe him about $6.5 million in salary next season.

When Payton interviewed for the job, he declined to comment on whether he thought Brooks should stay or go, but he said the Saints asked him about developing a quarterback.

"We talked about that," Payton said. "I enjoy coaching that position. I enjoy being involved in the offense. I would certainly look forward to being involved with that development."

This is the first coach hired by Loomis, who was promoted after team owner Tom Benson fired Randy Mueller in 2002. Mueller, now the Miami Dolphins' GM, hired Haslett.

Payton is the second straight coach hired by the Saints with no head coaching experience. It worked well early last time as Haslett took the Saints to the franchise's first playoff victory in his first season. But New Orleans has missed the playoffs in the five seasons since.

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