Sean Payton initially brought up the idea of living in Dallas when he first accepted the Saints job. Owner Tom Benson and G.M. Mickey Loomis didn’t support the idea.
“Mickey wasn’t keen on that at all,” Payton wrote in his book Home Team. “Whoever came would have to be all in, he said. It was essential that the New Orleans Saints’ head coach be as much a part of the team and the community as any player, any team official or any fan. This was not a job a head coach could just phone in.”
So is he phoning it in now? We decided to tread lightly on the impact of Payton’s decision to move to Dallas on Monday. It didn’t seem fair for an outsider to make a judgment without knowing the situation better. (Not that it’s stopped us before.)
Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune is not an outsider. And the issues he raises in an excellent column on Tuesday are worth considering.
Duncan wonders why the move was allowed now if it wasn’t in 2006. What precipitated the move? He points out that Payton is “nobly respectful” of the demands his job puts on his family, but doesn’t ignore serious issues at play here.
“This isn’t the first questionable move of Payton’s five-year tenure, but it’s potentially much more damaging to his reputation than popping a few extra Vicodin or aligning himself with ex-con Mike Ornstein,” Duncan writes.
Speculation about a possible return of Payton to Dallas was alive in New Orleans before this news broke. Payton will have to sell this move to his fanbase, and live with the increased speculation that the decision brings.
“New Orleans is the most proudly provincial city in America, and there’s no room for fence-sitters in post-Katrina New Orleans,” Duncan writes. “You’re all in or you’re all out.”