Sean Payton to lead Loyola commencement ceremonies

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton looks at a video screen during an NFL football game...
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton looks at a video screen during an NFL football game against the Titans in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)(Gary McCullough | AP)
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 11:17 AM CDT

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The most decorated football coach in New Orleans Saints history will lead the commencement ceremony at Loyola University in May.

President Tania Tetlow made the announcement in an email to students and faculty on March 25.

“From the very first home opener in a repaired Superdome,” the email reads. “To a Super Bowl victory in 2010, the Saints taught us how to win again. They made us believe in ourselves and our city. They brought us together like nothing else has.”

Tetlow calls Payton a “brilliant teacher who inspires excellence.”

“His enthusiasm and passion always made the team even bigger than the sum of the players. And he has demonstrated the quality of his character through his personal dedication to service of this community, and his public calling out of the NFL on diversity issues. The graduates will get to hear their own Loyola version of his locker room halftime speech,” the email continues.

Loyola’s commencement ceremonies take place from May 12-14.

The full email is below:

Dear Loyola community,

I am thrilled – and filled with more than a little hometown pride – to announce that our speaker for Commencement 2022 will be Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints for the last sixteen seasons.

As our own Loyola basketball teams reminded us this year, sometimes sports are about more than just sports. When Coach Payton first arrived in New Orleans the year after Katrina, the city was on its knees. Not only did we face years of grueling work to rebuild, but also questions about our very existence.Under Sean Payton’s leadership, the Saints helped bring our mojo back. From the very first home opener in a repaired Superdome (when U2 played and Steve Gleason blocked his famous punt) to a Super Bowl victory in 2010, the Saints taught us how to win again. They made us believe in ourselves and our city. They brought us together like nothing else has.

Sean Payton is one of the most successful and long-standing coaches in NFL history, which (in our language) means he is a brilliant teacher who inspires excellence. His enthusiasm and passion always made the team even bigger than the sum of the players. And he has demonstrated the quality of his character through his personal dedication to service of this community, and his public calling out of the NFL on diversity issues. The graduates will get to hear their own Loyola version of his locker room halftime speech.

We will also present honorary degrees to several other remarkable people: internationally renowned musician George Porter, Jr., Holocaust survivor and advocate Anne Levy, city health director and pandemic-fighting hero Dr. Jennifer Avegno, and the Rev. Gregory Boyle, S.J., who has spent a lifetime working with former gang leaders and helping them find employment and spiritual direction.

At the law school ceremony, we will honor and receive wisdom from one of my personal heroes, the Honorable Calvin Johnson, retired chief judge of Orleans Parish District Court and the first African-American elected to serve on that court. He has dedicated his life to making the concept of justice a reality, from reform of the criminal justice system to concern for the mentally ill. And leads with a rare combination of brilliance, courage and humor. Judge Johnson epitomizes our Jesuit mission.

I cannot wait to celebrate with you in May. The planning committee asked if we should end the ceremony with confetti, fireworks or a brass band. I said yes. All of that!

Tania TetlowPresident

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