People Who Love the Hornets: Football Player/Coach Edition



by Alejandro de los Rios


As promised, here's a picture of Sean Payton sitting courtside at last night's Hornets game. The girl dressed in blue is actually Meghan, Payton's daughter. This is the third game Payton has attended, all of them with one member of his family (his first game he attended was with his son, Connor, and the second was with his wife, Beth). What's more significant, though, is that Payton decided to buy season tickets for next year.

"I'm fired up for this team," he said.

He added that, this being the quiet portion of the NFL season — the time between the Super Bowl and the draft — he has been able to take in a more games of late. Not too long ago, Payton was featured on the Hornets' Arena jumbotron and received a raucous ovation from the crowd. Last night was not the case and Payton said he liked it more that way.

"I like to keep it more low key," he said.

The ovation brought to mind how the city of New Orleans galvanized around the Saints two seasons ago and how they've rallied around the Hornets this year.

"The fans of the city are bred that way," Payton said. "It's exciting for this city to have another team in the playoffs."

Don't look now, but the Hornets might not be the only New Orleans team to make the playoffs. The VooDoo are leading the Arena Football League's Southwest division with a 5—2 record. They also lead all New Orleans teams in players that recognize me from the stands and call my cell phone (Uh, oh. SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT!).

I've been working on a feature about VooDoo defensive end Henry Bryant, who was also in attendance at last night's game. It was Henry's second Hornets game this season and he talked about how he would look at the court and try and figure out where everything was when the HiveNest became the Graveyard.

"It's crazy how small their court is," he said. "I though our field was small."

So is there any difference in the crowds?

"I don't see any difference," he said. "Both groups of fans come out and are loud and love to support their teams."

Fans and local celebrities alike, it seems. Stay tuned, I've got some more famous sightings on the way.

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