New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has said his book "HOME TEAM," which opened on the New York Times Bestseller List, is about the unique relationship his team has with their fans and how they worked together to bring New Orleans their first Super Bowl title this past season.
That bond with the Saints faithful was highlighted Wednesday night at the Barnes & Noble in Mandeville where Payton held his first book signing.
"This relationship (with the fans) here is so uniquely different and it's the essence of this book," said Payton prior to the signing. "There is a history of this team and city long before this team ever won anything.
"Today I am going to hear 500 stories about how my grandfather, my father, my mother use to watch games at Tulane Stadium. You start to hear that story over 100,000 times even though you know there were only 68,000 people at that event. It has been the team that everyone has followed and celebrated in the belief of the next Sunday or next season and knowing someday it would happen and sure enough we are sitting here and it has."
When Payton arrived at the bookstore, as has become a current theme for the Saints leader at public events, pandemonium ensued. Nearly 1,300 fans that zigzagged throughout the bookstore waiting in line exploding with enthusiasm and pointing cameras, cell phones and sharpies in Payton's direction as he made his way to his table.
The first fan in line was 51-year-old Tony LeMon. LeMon arrived at Barnes & Noble on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. The establishment closed at 11 p.m., but LeMon was determined to be the first to get his book signed so he stayed through the night.
Lemon is an avid ironman race contestant and thought pulling an all-nighter at a bookstore would be a breeze.
"Being use to 17-hour ironman races made me confident it wouldn't be a bad wait," said LeMon. "Waiting 15 hours without having to bike, swim or run seemed like a piece of cake."
When the manager arrived Monday morning to reopen the store at 8 a.m., she was amazed LeMon was still waiting at the front door. The manager gave the devoted fan his bracelet for the signing and told him to go home and get some rest and that she would save his spot for the signing.
LeMon was determined to be the first in line because he was going to use the signed books to raise money for the Children's Museum of St. Tammany, a project planned for the area next to the Kid's Konnection playground located at the Tammany Trace and Koop Drive in Mandeville.
Payton was made aware of LeMon's late night adventure and spent some time talking to the devoted fan prior to the signing.
"I am glad you went home and showered – I think we all are," Payton joked to LeMon.
One by one, fans came to Payton's table and more than anything just wanted to thank him for all he has done since he arrived in New Orleans in 2006.
One fan asked coach how his book sales compared with his quarterback Drew Brees, who released his book "Coming Back Stronger" a month prior to Payton's book release.
"They told me earlier that it is close, but Drew has done 19 of these events while I have been at the beach," said Payton. "This is my first one so I am just getting started."
Payton was only scheduled to sign till 8 p.m. but the coach stayed a half hour later to make sure everyone got their book signed and even signed an extra 120 copies for the bookstore to sell at a later date. At the end of the day, the store's employees projected that Payton had signed close to 2,000 books.
When Payton finished signing all the books that were displayed, he shook hands with the remaining fans in the store and headed for the exit. As he was about to leave, a young boy yelled, "Thanks for everything you do coach!"
"I should be telling that that you son," said Payton with a smile.