The Saints Hall of Fame auction took place last night at the Saints facility. WVUE, Channel 8 in New Orleans as well as others sponsored the event.
We received an opportunity to eat in the Saints cafeteria and view the indoor field, weight room, Lombardi trophy and glimpse the locker room. After the tours, the HOF held its annual auction the highlight of which was an appearance by Sean Payton.
The cafeteria is bright, utilitarian, and had slogans such as
- “Great performances on the field are fueled by healthy choices at meals”
- Importance of pregame meals … “I was feeling well in the first half. I felt down, man. I had three slices of pizza before the game and the food took me down.” Leroy Loggins. (I feel sorry for Leroy. I am sure he did not expect these words to live on.)
The cafeteria chairs had an odd component. Dark blue or black tennis balls covered each chair leg. Definitely kept the chairs from moving, and the floor from scarring. No one could tell us the purpose of the tennis balls; but given the utilitarian nature of the facility, they must serve a function.
Personally, I liked the fact the facilities were not luxurious but functional. It is entirely a reflection of a team that is all about business and ready to strip away the old the replace it with the new when necessary.
The indoor practice field is a full size football field replete with field turf and Dome-reminiscent cushy rubber pellets. It was fun to run and bounce on. Also, it made me think of all of those pics showing Brees and other players playing with their children. The “Do Your Job” poster has been replaced with other posters of team moments such as.
- Steve Gleason’s blocked punt
- A pre-game huddle up
- Our Lombardi hoisted above helmets
- The blocked field goal in the Redskins game
- Our OLine at the SuperBowl
- As well as the goal line stance at the Superbowl
The weight room seem unexceptional until we were told by the Saints official photographer, Michael Hebert, that Sean Payton had requested a mural be placed on its wall of an inside shot of the Dome – the fan section. One wall is covered by fans to remind the team we are hanging with them through their journey this year. There were other indoor shots depicting aspects of football character such as “Stamina” and “Speed.”
The Lombardi was especially nice to see as always, and the glimpse of the locker room was just that a glimpse. There was a shielding wall that you had to traverse to obtain a full view. Oh well. There were several posters throughout the building including
- “Inspiration exists but it has to find you working” “You have to pay a price” “New Orleans Saints – Strong, Tough, Smart, Disciplined, and Well-Conditioned” “We win with Strength, Stamina and Toughness” “Individuals Play the Game but Teams win Championships”
- My favorite, however, was on the exit door “There are Many Exit Doors in Pro Football”
There were several auction items that were particularly fun including dinners, hotel stays, and guitars as well as helmets and jerseys. But the really fun items were reserved for Sean Payton’s participation.
But before these items were auctioned, Coach spoke for a few minutes. He said the Hall of Fame weekend is special for the players; and for many of them, their last play came on the practice field on the Hall of Fame weekend. He talked about the upcoming year and how 100% of the players have participated so far with outstanding results. Monday, May 20, was a credited day for the players so they had a choice to either play in the HOF golf tournament or work in the weight room. Coached joked “You will probably see some strong, bad golfers” on the links tomorrow.
Coach Payton participated in auctioning off some items including “Bring the Wood” bats for Morestead, Brees and Colston. Peyton explained the bats began in 2006 when the team wanted to get more physical against AFC teams. They had had success with NFC teams but not the AFC. The color of the bats is tied to the opponent they played.
Sean Payton was also involved in auctioning off photographs by Michael Hebert (the Saints official photographer) including
- Brees with Johnny Unitas’ son, Joe, the night Brees broke Unitas’ record (This was also commemorated by one of the “Bring the Wood” bats).
- The shot used in the “Do Your Job” poster
- The 2012 team photo with an empty chair for coach, and everyone wearing visors in memoriam. (I coveted this item was not able to afford it. Coached appeared touched by the photo and laughed about signing a photo he wasn’t in).
A lot of fun ensued when Payton auctioned off four seats at the 50-yard line behind the Saints bench for the opener with Atlanta. This also included pre-game field passes. Coach joked the winner must behave himself or risk incurring the “Do Your Job” look. One bidder asked if the seats came with “spit,” and coached joked it would come with hand-delivered hot dogs if it would get the price up. He then threw in a signed visor by himself and Brees—stating Drew didn’t know it but he would sign the visor. This item obtained the highest price at auction.
Coach graciously stayed afterward to sign autographs, and, yes, my phone now proudly bears a Sean Payton autograph. I tried to express my enthusiasm for the John Jenkins pick, but Coach wasn’t interested in my War Daddy theories. At least, I didn’t get the look. Alas, my photo with coach did not come out so you will have to take my word it.
I walked away feeling the Saints are focused, determined and are going to make a lot of noise this season alongside a lot of fun.