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"The Marshall of the Air" for New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton: Phil Marshall

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Sept. 18, 2011;New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton during their game against the Chicago Bears at the Louisiana Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-US PRESSWIRE

Let me introduce Phil Marshall, pilot extraordinaire and captain of the Free Sean Payton plane campaign.  Phil hails from the New Orleans area and, like me, his Dad took him to the first Saints game in 1967 at Tulane Stadium.

My recollections of that day are fuzzy but Phil tells me the stadium literally shook when the first Saints play ever was run in for a touchdown.  Phil has lived through good Saints times and bad Saints times—even sporting a bag at one point.  But he has never wavered in his support of the team.

Now his support can be seen more evidently than ever before.  He is the pilot and orchestrator of the Free Sean Payton plane campaign which recently “buzzed” the Saints practice facility and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome towing a Free Payton banner.   “Buzzing” is a pilot’s term for letting the ground know you are there; consequently, Phil calls his flights “Buzzes.”

Not uncharacteristically, the buzzing idea began during a “get buzzed session” at Pat O’Brien’s one night when he and friend concocted this idea.

Next “Buzz” – NFL headquarters in Manhattan, which he plans to do on opening day of the season during the ESPN hosting party.  There is a fly zone for helicopters and small planes Phil will take advantage of during his flight.   When asked how long he intends to continue Buzzing, Phil said, “Until they free Sean Payton.”

To support Phil and the Free Payton campaign, visit his website at FreePayton.org to donate.  Phil’s target donation for fans is $20 per fan; he wants to show strength in numbers.  Each donor will receive an “Air Payton CREW” t shirt.

Visit his Facebook page at Free Payton .ORG (Use the spaces when looking for his page on Facebook). His twitter handle is @PaytonAir.   Each flight costs $2,400.

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