How do the tales of a beautiful city, two head coaches, and two quarterbacks compare to one another?
Devastation and a Rebuild
In 2005, the city of New Orleans was completely different than what is it now, especially for the New Orleans Saints, Jim Haslett was the head coach and Aaron Brooks was the quarterback. The Saints went 8-8 in the 2004 season and they were ready to improve coming into the 2005 season.
The Saints played their first 2005 preseason game at home against Seattle and then went to New England for their second. On August 26, 2005, the Saints would play their last home game in the Louisiana Superdome before it would be ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
On August 28, 2005, Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city. Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005, as a Category 5 hurricane and devastated the city of New Orleans.
While the city was attempting to bounce back from Katrina as they always do, the Saints were making do with what they had. The Saints were eventually sent from San Jose, California to San Antonio, Texas where they set up practice facilities at a sports complex adjacent to Luther Burbank High School.
Talks of the Saints being relocated were already heavy that year, after assessing the Superdome damaged to the extent of needing to be demolished it almost came true. Until then NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue met with Mr. and Mrs. Benson and convinced them to keep the team in New Orleans, as he saw how much the team meant to the city. The Superdome served as a shelter of last resort for those who couldn’t evacuate.
New Era of New Orleans Saints Football
While all this was happening, little did the city know that its saviors were located in Dallas and San Diego. In January 2006 after going 3-13 in 2005, head coach Haslett was fired by the Saints. No sooner than a week later the Saints were on a hunt for a new head coach and all roads eventually led to Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach Sean Payton.
Payton was looking for his first head coach opportunity and the Saints were willing to give him that. On January 18, 2006, the Saints announced hiring Payton as the new head coach. Payton felt he had something to prove and needed that quality in a quarterback due to Aaron Brooks being released in 2005.
Payton set his eyes on San Diego Chargers quarterback Drew Brees, who was coming off of a potentially career-ending shoulder injury. On March 18, 2006, Brees signed a six-year contract with the Saints per Spotrac.com.
Brees and his wife Brittany visited the city and the facilities and after seeing the devastation Katrina left behind, he came to the conclusion that if he could get back to his old form pre-injury, he could make a big difference in building this city back up to its previous heights. On September 25, 2006, the Saints were led into victory in their first home game back in New Orleans by new head coach Payton and new quarterback Brees.