Sean Payton will have a lot of business to take care of at noon Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
But the New Orleans Saints coach could be forgiven if he takes a few moments to reflect before the season opener kicks off.
No one, not even Payton with his single-minded focus, can ignore the fact that his first real game back after an NFL-imposed one-season suspension is against the same team — the one the Who Dats love to hate the most, the Atlanta Falcons — that Payton faced in his first home game as an NFL head coach seven years ago.
Now, let’s get one thing perfectly clear: This game, no game, can ever match the 23-3 win that marked the reopening of the Superdome a year after Hurricane Katrina — but this one stands out in its own way. Payton is back, and there isn’t a better storyline on this kickoff weekend.
The most successful Saints coach ever would be justified in taking a moment to look at the middle of the field where Deuce McAllister three times willed himself to fourth-quarter first downs against Philadelphia, making a winner of Payton in his first playoff game as a head coach and giving New Orleans its first victory in a divisional playoff game after the 2006 season.
He might turn toward the south tunnel and recall Reggie Bush sprinting through there to midfield carrying one of the baseball bats Payton had given the players for inspiration before the divisional game against Arizona after the 2009 season.