I probably speak for most NOLA Saints fans when we heard the news that Sean Payton would be stepping away from coaching. All of those rumors that connected him to his New Orleans departure over the years had been without merit, only to have the ones from this year be valid.
Quite simply, it didn’t seem real.
As this organization has preached over the years, no excuses.
The Saints marched on, in search of a worthy replacement for the best head coach in franchise history. That replacement is defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, who had been on Sean Payton’s staff for years.
Allen has head coaching experience with the Raiders, though he was unsuccessful there. That’s beside the point, however. He’s earned this opportunity as a loyal lieutenant and a major reason for the Saints defense becoming a top-flight group the last few seasons.
And yes, Dennis Allen is white.
You might look at the end result of this head coaching search and see that the Saints failed to hire a minority coach, effectively continuing the NFL’s run on white head coaches, save for the Texans’ Lovie Smith. That’s not what you should see, though.
NOLA Saints’ head coaching search should be commended for its measured approach
Instead, consider the holistic approach to the Saints’ coaching search.
They allowed Byron Leftwich, Aaron Glenn, Brian Flores, and Eric Bieniemy to all have legitimate chances to interview and become the next coach in New Orleans. Bieniemy was reportedly in town for eight hours, a testament to the Saints’ commitment to this process. The next head coach of this team very well could have been of a minority race.
It shouldn’t be a race thing, though. It should be about the process, and the Saints’ process was as good as any team’s could ever be. They hired a coach who truly fits their scheme, who knows the organization and the culture within. Those things matter.
The Saints should not have hired a minority head coach just for the sake of appeasing the masses or the media. They should be commended for taking a thorough and measured approach to finding the next leader of their team, giving every candidate who was interviewed a fair shot.
A lot of other NFL teams can’t say they’ve done the same.