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BillyCarpenter1 08-08-2003 02:44 PM

Jim Haslett Article
Persona: Jim Haslett

By Autumn C. Giusti
Photographer Jeffery Johnston

Jim Haslett calls the shots for the New Orleans Saints as the team’s head coach.

Born: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Resides: Destrehan
Age: 47
Family: Wife, Beth; daughters Kelsey, 12, and Elizabeth, 7, and son, Chase, 11
Favorite book: "Coaches don’t have time to read. But if I do, it’s a book by Bill Walsh or Pat Riley or Chuck Noll."
Favorite movie: "All the movies I go to are with my kids, so my favorite is probably ‘Harry Potter.’ "
Favorite foods: "Anything healthy – spaghetti, chicken, rice."
Favorite sports figure: Chuck Noll, former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach

You used to play professional football. When did you turn to coaching?
In 1986, I was playing with the (Buffalo) Bills. We were playing the (Chicago) Bears. Walter Payton went to block me, and another guy hit me from the side. I was laying on the field with a broken leg, and right then I just decided I wanted to coach. I played for another two years, then I got into coaching.

What attracted you to football in the first place?
It’s kind of the way of the world in Pittsburgh. There are probably more coaches from Pittsburgh than from any other city in the country. Consequently, it kind of trickles down to the players. You look at all the great quarterbacks – Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Jim Kelly. There are a lot of great players who came out of that area. I started playing the game when I was 8 years old. They always say to never put all your eggs in one basket, (but) that’s kind of what I’ve done my whole life.

New Orleanians have a reputation for being fair-weather fans. What’s it like coaching in a city like that?
I don’t think they’re fair-weather fans – they’ve never really experienced the ultimate – winning a championship – and that’s something we’re trying to do. When we got here, they had never won a playoff game and never really experienced a lot of winning. We did something our first year they had never accomplished. Obviously expectations go up, and we expect more from ourselves.

What do you think happened at the end of last season?
I’m not going to make excuses; we just didn’t get the job done. We’re going to fix the problems, and I don’t think it’ll ever happen again.

Kyle Turley was a locals’ favorite. Was it a tough call to get rid of him?
No, because Kyle didn’t want to be here. Kyle was probably the best self-promoter I’ve ever been around as a coach or a player. He sold himself, and he did a pretty good job at it. As much as he told people he wanted to be here, in the long run he didn’t.

What has the team been working on during the off-season?
Well, trying to fix the defense. We thought that was one area we didn’t do very well in, last couple of years. I wouldn’t say we’ve had a major overhaul, but we had a good off-season plan I think we executed very well. We’ll see if it pays off.

How do you like the new indoor training facility in Jefferson Parish?
It’s beautiful. Based on the weather conditions down here all the time – it rains, the heat – it’s hard to imagine that they’ve never had an indoor facility. When you go up North, all those teams there have them. Any time it gets cold or it rains, they go indoors.

How do you like to unwind when you’re not coaching?
I don’t do anything besides work out and spend time with my family. I don’t golf, I don’t go out – unless I go out with the family. If you ever want to find me, you can find me here (with the team), the weight room or at home. That’s it.

Are your kids interested in football? My son is. The girls could care less. My 12-year-old daughter comes to the game and reads books, then she’ll ask me who won after the game. My 7-year-old will not participate in sports because she doesn’t like to sweat. And my 11-year-old, Chase, is a fanatic about all sports. He tells me how to coach, who to pick, who to draft, what I’m doing wrong. He called me during the draft and told me we took the wrong players.

True confession: I’m just an average man. I don’t live a lavish lifestyle; I like the simple things. •

August 2003 - Vol. 37 Issue 11

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