5. Sean Payton coached in the first-ever game at Invesco Field at Mile High
In 2001, the Denver Broncos debuted a brand-new stadium. At the time, it was called Invesco Field at Mile High. The first game at that stadium was a Monday Night Football matchup between the Broncos and the visiting New York Giants.
After a tight game through three quarters, the Broncos would pull away in the fourth quarter of a 31-20 victory.
At this stage of his coaching career, Sean Payton was the offensive coordinator of the New York Giants, a position he would hold from 2000-02. So, Payton was there for the first regular season game ever played at the stadium -- now called Empower Field at Mile High -- he will now coach at as the head man of the home team.
What's really crazy about this particular fact is that the game between the Giants and the Broncos was played on Monday, September 10, 2001. The Giants flew back home the next morning and arrived at around 6 AM on September 11, 2001. The details of the Giants' arrival that fateful day -- as told in an article in the New York Times in 2005 -- are chilling, to say the least:
"The game ended after midnight Eastern time. The United Airlines charter carrying the Giants landed in Newark just before 6 a.m. A flight attendant on the team’s next trip told players that their plane had parked at a gate next to where United Flight 93 had departed — the 8 a.m. flight to San Francisco that was one of four planes hijacked on Sept. 11.- New York Times, 2005
On Sept. 11, 2001, Giants executives who had cars parked at the airport walked through the terminal, perhaps past passengers on Flight 93. Players and coaches went down the side stairs to the tarmac and boarded a bus for Giants Stadium. Players got in cars and went home. Coaches and administrators went to their stadium offices to start preparing for the next game."
Sean Payton recounted the events as he remembered them 20 years after the fact. It's pretty amazing how vivid he -- and I'm sure many, many others -- can still recall the events of that day (and many of the days thereafter).
The NFL would go on to postpone Week 2 of that season and reschedule games for later on. The Denver Broncos started the year 3-1 but faltered to an 8-8 record and missed the playoffs after winning 11 games the year prior.