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Inside the Game: Saints vs Bears Connections

New Orleans Head Coach Sean Payton is a Naperville, Illinois native and played QB at Naperville Central High School.


  • New Orleans Head Coach Sean Payton is a Naperville, Illinois native and played QB at Naperville Central High School. He earned a communications degree from Eastern Illinois, posting 10,665 passing yards as a three-time Associated Press All-American. Payton played in the Arena Football League with the Chicago Bruisers and briefly with the Bears in 1987. He was inducted into the Eastern Illinois Hall of Fame and has his number retired. He also tutored quarterbacks for a year at the University of Illinois Payton has a sister and niece who live in Skokie.
  • Payton and Chicago Bears Head Coach John Fox served on the same coaching staff together with the New York Giants from 1999-2001, the last two seasons together, Payton serving as offensive coordinator and Fox as defensive coordinator.
  • Chicago General Manager Ryan Pace served in several capacities in the New Orleans front office before being tabbed to lead the Bears football operation in 2015, most recently as Director of Player Personnel from 2013-15.
  • Saints Senior Offensive Assistant/Wide Receivers Curtis Johnson served as wide receivers coach in Chicago in 2016.
  • Chicago Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio served as a member of the New Orleans defensive coaching staff from 1986-94. Saints Assistant Wide Receivers Coach Ronald Curry served on the same San Francisco 49ers coaching staff with Fangio and Bears defensive Defensive Backs Coach Ed Donatell from 2013-14.
  • Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen served on Donatell's defensive staff in Atlanta from 2014-15.
  • Bears DT Akiem Hicks was a third round draft pick of the Saints in 2012 and played for the club from 2012-15.
  • New Orleans Defensive Assistant Michael Hodges served on the coaching staff at Eastern Illinois from 2014-16, coaching linebackers from 2014-15 and serving as co-defensive coordinator his final season in Charleston.
  • New Orleans Assistant Offensive Line Coach Brendan Nugent served on the Bears coaching staff from 2013-14.
  • New Orleans T Zach Strief played at Northwestern from 2002-05.
  • Saints Assistant Special Teams Coach Kevin O'Dea has a pair of coaching stints in Chicago from 2006-07 and from 1011-12.
  • Saints Offensive Line Coach Dan Roushar was a two-year letterman at quarterback at Northern Illinois and later had two stints on their coaching staff in 1984 and from 1997-2002.
  • Saints DB Justin Hardee played at Illinois.
  • New Orleans TE Michael Hoomanawanui played for the Illini from 2008-11.
  • Saints WR Tommylee Lewis also played at Northern Illinois.
  • New Orleans Coaching Assistant Matt Phillips is the son of Chicago President & CEO Matt Phillips.
  • New Orleans Secondary Coach Aaron Glenn and Bears Offensive Coordinator Dowell Loggains served on the same coaching staff in Cleveland in 2014.
  • Saints QB Drew Brees, Bears Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Rodgers and Defensive Line Coach Jay Rodgers were high school teammates at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. Jay Rodgers served as a graduate assistant at LSU from 2001-02.
  • New Orleans Tight Ends Coach Frank Smith served on the Saints offensive coaching staff from 2010-14.
  • Bears Assistant Defensive Backs Coach Roy Anderson served as a graduate assistant at LSU in 2004.
  • New Orleans Assistant General Manager/College Scouting Director Jeff Ireland is the grandson of former longtime Bears personnel executive Jim Parmer.
  • New Orleans RB Alvin Kamara played for Bears Wide Receivers Coach Zach Azzanni when he served as passing game coordinator at the University of Tennessee from 2015-16.
  • Chicago Offensive Assistant John Dunn served as an offensive graduate assistant/intern at LSU from 2008-10.
  • Saints Quarterbacks Coach Joe Lombardi, Bears Running Backs Coach Curtis Modkins and Offensive Line Coach Jeremiah Washburn served on the same offensive coaching staff in Detroit from 2014-15. Saints G Larry Warford played for Washburn in Detroit from 2013-15.
  • Chicago Assistant Offensive Line Coach Ben Wilkerson was a four-year starter at C for LSU from 2001-04, serving on the Tigers staff from 2010-11 and serving as offensive line coach at Grambling State from 2012-13.
  • New Orleans Linebackers Coach Mike Nolan and Chicago Linebackers Coach Glenn Pires served on the same defensive coaching staff in Atlanta from 2012-14.
  • New Orleans Special Teams Coordinator Bradford Banta and Chicago Quarterbacks Coach Dave Ragone served on the same coaching staff in Washington in 2015.
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