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By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - They had attended symposiums and talked football over lunch a few times, and when Marc Trestman was out of work, Sean Payton came through with an assist.
For that, the Bears' coach is grateful.
There probably won't be much reminiscing when Chicago takes on New Orleans at Soldier Field this week, but Trestman did take some time to reflect on Thursday.
``No. 1, it was more about a friendship between Sean and myself,'' he said.
Trestman had just been fired after a two-year run as offensive coordinator at North Carolina State and was on a sort of sabbatical when he was hired as a consultant to Payton, the Saints' coach, for the 2007 season. They weren't close friends at the time, but they knew each other from those symposiums, back when Payton was an assistant in the league.
For Trestman, the consulting job was ``an opportunity to have some dignity in my career.''
Five years as the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes and two CFL championships later, Trestman is leading an NFL team for the first time. And he's off to a good start.
There were comeback wins over Cincinnati and Minnesota to open the season and a stroll through Pittsburgh before a loss at Detroit last week. The Bears (3-1) are trying to pick themselves up and knock the Saints (4-0) from the ranks of the unbeaten.
They're tied with the Lions for the NFC North lead. Their offense appears to be a better fit for the personnel, even if things have been a bit shaky at times, and it looks like Trestman has connected with quarterback Jay Cutler.
That's something previous offensive coordinators Ron Turner, Mike Martz and Mike Tice could not do. And it's a big reason why he is getting this opportunity, even though he seemed to vanish from the NFL radar.
Trestman spent several decades coaching at the college and NFL levels under men such as Bud Grant, Howard Schnellenberger and Bill Walsh. He developed a reputation as a quarterback guru for his work with Bernie Kosar, Rich Gannon and Steve Young, but by the time he took the job with New Orleans, he was in a sort of limbo.
``I had just been let go at N.C. State, I wasn't doing anything, I was sitting the year out, I had two years left on a contract,'' Trestman said. ``He invited me down and really showed professional respect. ... It was a great learning time for me and it was also a good time to watch Sean be a head coach and see how he worked on a daily basis and see how he handled the success and the adversity, because during the year I was there, they went through some adversity during the course of the season. So, I got a chance to look at that, but how to get things done and do things the right way, it was impressive.''