Following his NFL retirement announcement, we look back at Saints' head coach Sean Payton's career with some of the best photos from his time in New Orleans.
Marques Colston retired after 10 seasons of playing record-setting football for the New Orleans Saints.
He perfectly understood on Tuesday when Coach Sean Payton announced he was stepping away from the game after 16 years with the franchise, 15 of them coaching the Saints to the most successful run in franchise history.
"Sixteen years in this business is a long time, and for somebody that put so much into every game plan every week, I can only imagine the toll that it's taken," Colston said. "So I'm happy to see him be able to go out on his own terms as best he can.
"Obviously, everything that he's done within that organization, for that organization, for each and every player that he's given an opportunity to like myself, we're all forever indebted. It's a bittersweet day for the organization, but it's a day that I know that he's earned. He's earned the right to make the move that's best for him, and I hope he enjoys whatever comes next."
Payton and the Saints drafted Colston in the seventh round in 2006, Payton's first season in New Orleans. Colston went on to set franchise records in receptions (711), receiving yards (9,759), receiving touchdowns and total touchdowns (72), and yards from scrimmage (9,766).
"None of that happens without an opportunity," Colston said. "I came out of Hofstra with a ton of confidence in my ability, but none of that happens without an opportunity and somebody that's willing to take a chance on somebody who at that point in time…a big slot receiver was pretty unorthodox.
"I think my career, and a lot of other guys' careers, really benefited from his ability to draft a player and really bring a player into the fold with a vision for how they can succeed. For me and my career, especially early on, that meant everything, the fact that he took that chance and I was able to do some things with it. But without that initial opportunity, my story stays on the first page."
Colston said Payton was the lynchpin for the new generation of the Saints' organization.
"But I think he'd be the first to tell you that it's his vision in lockstep with a lot of other peoples' vision," Colston said. "The thing that always struck me about him was the humility he operated with in terms of taking advice from others, allowing others to lead and really creating those opportunities for others to grow and become leaders. Just as much as the wins count, I think that type of an organization that really values and cares for everyone in it, I think that's just as much of the legacy as the wins. And there was a hell of a lot of wins."
And a legacy that will be mountainous to match for the next Saints coach.
"I think it's difficult, just because 16 years in football time – that's a long time," Colston said. "But I do believe that it's one of those jobs that will be highly coveted because of the organization and the structure that is being left behind. So I think the right person can step into an opportunity to work with a great organization.
"There's obviously a nucleus and core group of players that are still there and coming back. It's going to be one of the best jobs available in this cycle, so whoever gets an opportunity to step into it is going to step into a really good situation. With high expectations. But that's what you want, that's what you're in the business for."
On January 25, 2022, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton announced he was stepping down from his role after 16 seasons.