By Nick Shook
Read full post on NFL.com
If there’s any team in the NFL that understands natural disaster devastation, it’s the New Orleans Saints. When the Saints arrived to camp in West Virginia on Wednesday, coach Sean Payton decided to replace sprints with service.
In the aftermath of record flooding in June that destroyed hundreds of homes and claimed the lives of 26 people, West Virginia residents are still in need of supplies and help putting their lives back together. Payton canceled the annual camp-opening conditioning test of gassers and arranged for buses to take his 90 players to a park that they would help rebuild.
Players are also scheduled to pass out water and supplies to those in need.
“I think our players will embrace the opportunity to do something,” Payton said before arriving at the camp on Tuesday, via USA Today. “When you hear ‘once-in-a-thousand-year flood,’ it really hits home. This was up on them like an earthquake.”
New Orleans clearly has experience with devastating flooding, taking years to recover and rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Understanding the importance of staying loyal to an area deeply affected by a natural disaster, the Saints stuck with plans to hold camp at the Greenbrier camp site (which sustained flooding), even after seeing the stunning images of devastation in the area.
“Clearly, when something like this happens,” Payton said, “our primary mindset is, ‘We’re coming unless you tell us not to.”
They’re also arriving with a sense of purpose greater than football before camp hits full swing.