Monday, February 7, 2011

From Home Team to Commuter Team: Payton Packs Up

Attention respectable sports writers: please don’t hate the blogs.


We don’t have the same professional liability as you so we’re able to cavalierly jump the gun with the only risk being that of tarnishing our clever message board screen name.

But then again, we also don’t get paid beyond GoogleAdSense banner spots and do all our travel on our dime and not a company’s.

And for the record more than a few of us who post under our legal names try to be responsible in our postings.

And as my source observed where there’s smoke there’s fire, even if the flames are not where everyone thought they were.

Here’s a rundown on how I arrived at a tidbit of news that made Black and Gold heart rates across the metro area accelerate.

Unlike other sports message boards that went running full steam on speculation, my source wasn’t part of a stampede but arrived at this destination independently.

At about 2:32 PM on not-so Super Sunday, I received an e-mail from someone dropping a nickel on the Payton family exodus to Dallas.

Now something seemingly so outrageous typically leads one to check a calendar to verify that this news was not arriving in the vicinity of April 1st before posting. However, I had no reason to question the integrity of my source, who is related to someone familiar with the Payton family’s presence in Mandeveille.

Now this being secondhand hearsay, I was hesitant to post anything about it. However, I did see that Canal Street Chronicles, one of the best Saints oriented blogs, had something on it and personally knowing my source to be a reputable individual, so I ran with it prefaced with the word RUMOR. And I have no regrets.

I felt there was something to the story even if it all didn’t make sense.

After all, why would Sean Payton abandon head coaching duties in New Orleans, where he possesses a great deal of latitude, to go to Dallas as either a head coach, unlikely since the Cowboys had just awarded in January then-interim-head coach Jason Garrett a four year contract as the permanent head coach, or as general manager, the more probable job, where owner Jerry Jones can at times resemble mad King George III in his team management?

Well it turned out Payton’s move to Dallas had nothing to do with either intensely speculated reason.

The Saints organization, which amazingly exhibited surprise by the frenzy, have only themselves to blame for not anticipating how their franticly loyal fan base would react to even a hint of Payton potentially leaving New Orleans, for either residential or professional reasons.

The Saints fans finally have winners (for the first time) on their side of the field and they’re naturally jealous of anyone who would covet the talent, players or coaches.

So what of the move?

Word that escaped Airline Drive indicates that Payton intends to keep his residence on the northshore though his primary residence will be in the exclusive Vaquero Club (home of the Jonas Brothers) and that he will fly in from north Texas when necessary.

While calming the frayed nerves of Saints fans afraid that the coach was moving on to “greener” pastures, it does raise a few questions.

Is Payton’s departure to the Cowboys in some sort of capacity now a matter of when rather than if?

And secondly, what does it say about the Payton family’s attachment to New Orleans.

And for that matter Payton’s sincerity towards the Crescent City, considering he titled his autobiography Home Team.

The first point first. I think at some juncture in his career, Payton will rejoin the organization where he served as an assistant coach prior to assuming head coach duties with the Saints. This is my personal speculation here. We’ll see in a half-decade, plus or minus a year, whether this comes to pass.

The second point perhaps stings our collective psyche the most leaving the feeling that we’re just not good enough for them.

That’s the read I’ve picked up from fans who have taken the move as a personal affront.

Now perhaps I should deliver the following words from behind the protection of a chicken-wire fence but, so what?

If the Payton family wants to retire to Dallas after he hangs up his visor and clipboard, then that’s they’re choice. New Orleans isn’t for everyone.

And does anyone REALLY consider Mandeville New Orleans?

Nothing against Mandeville but Lake Pontchartrain and the once longest bridge in the world act as much of a buffer against the city’s problems as they do its soul.

Our feelings shouldn’t be hurt nor should we take this as a slight. They tried the gumbo and it’s just not for them.

If anything, I’m thrilled Beth Payton allowed her husband to invest in our community at a time when things were at the nadir.

This wasn’t simply taking a job but relocating his young family from one of the glitziest cities in America to K-ville. Trading the swanky Neiman Marcus North Park to the recently looted Saks Fifth Avenue.

Could you imagine standing in Payton’s sneakers having to make that sale to his Indiana wife? Payton provides a glimpse of it in his book under the chapter title “Move Where?”.

Imagine the honey-dos he had to sign off on to make that happen even if the Payton family have been richly rewarded for coming to New Orleans.

So if this is indeed a case of Beth Payton wanting out, no offense taken. I totally understand even if I am more of a Lafcadio Hearn mindset.

But what about that book, might you ask. You know HOME TEAM.

Well if you read the book, you’d know that the title had as much to do with the Saints securing the number one seed to own home field advantage in the playoffs after the debacle in Soldier Field during the NFC Championship than anything else.

I think Coach Payton loves the city and its people. However it’s apparent the relocation is a family decision. Some Saints fans might not respect him as a coach and figure in the Saints for it, but I respect him as a husband and a father for making what was going to be a tough public relations move.

So long as the Lombardi Trophy stays in the 504 area code and Payton keeps chewing his Juicy Fruit while sporting a fleur-de-lis, I think fans need to respect his decision and not discuss the matter any further now that Payton is just relocating and not defecting.

1 comment:

  1. Mike:

    I wish this was not so long so that I could have read it. I am sure it was superb.