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Sean Payton: From so-so Giants assistant to ... this?

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How in the world did Sean Payton turn out to be one of the best head coaches in the NFL?

I mean, c'mon! This is Sean Payton we're talking about. The guy was not exactly a rousing success as offensive coordinator for either the New York Giants or the Dallas Cowboys.

These days, though, Payton is hailed as a bloody genius. His New Orleans Saints went 13-3 this season, and only Old Man Favre and the Minnesota Vikings stand between the Saints and the Super Bowl.

How did this happen?

Remember 2002, when then-coach Jim Fassel took the play-calling away from Payton and was ready to fire him before Payton moved on to Dallas?

If memory serves, Payton did not always have the approval of Bill Parcells with the Cowboys, either.

I do remember thinking when the Saints hired Payton as head coach in 2006 that it would be a disaster. That Payton was simply riding a wave that saw young, first-time head coaches being given opportunities all across the league.

I remember thinking that Payton simply was not qualified, that it would never work and that within two years hhe would be looking for coordinator work again.

I guess I had this one figured all wrong. Tell me the truth, did you guys see this kind of future for Payton when he was here with the Giants?