New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton to savor jersey retirement at Eastern Illinois Saturday
NEW ORLEANS – Sean Payton’s old college number now will hang in all its splendor.
On Saturday, Payton will have his jersey No. 18 retired by his alma mater, Eastern Illinois University, during the school’s home opener Saturday against Central Illinois.
Fresh off a 14-9 season-opening win against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night, Payton said he will be in attendance Saturday in Charleston, Ill. He will be accompanied to the game from New Orleans by several EIU administrators who attended the nationally-televised game at the Superdome.
Payton already is a member of EIU's Hall of Fame.
"It's been a long time since I've been back, probably 2001,'' Payton said Friday. "Mike Shanahan, Mike Heimerdinger and myself did a golf fundraiser there.
"I'm kind of anxious. They're playing their first home game and I'm going to have a chance to talk to the team before the game. I'm looking forward to getting back. I'm going to spend the night and see some college teammates.''
Payton wore No. 18 when he was a quarterback at EIU from 1983-86, and set the program's career records in total offense (10,298), passing yardage (10,655), pass completions (758) and touchdown passes (75). His touchdown passes record was broken in 2002 by current Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who last year became the first player in EIU football history to have his number retired.
Payton helped EIU advance to the FCS playoffs in his senior season of 1986. During his career, he had five games with 400 or more yards passing, including a 509-yard effort against Saginaw Valley.
Redshirt senior wide receiver Charles Graves currently wears the No. 18 jersey, and will be the final EIU player to wear the number.
Who'd thunk it???
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