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Payton's move more than enough to gin up rumor hysteria

by | CBSSports.com Columnist
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Sean Payton's family seems happy, and what the hell -- that's good enough.

Except of course it never is, not these days. This seemingly personal decision will remain personal just as long as neither the New Orleans Saints nor Dallas Cowboys ever lose two consecutive games again.

Seems simple, right? Don't screw up ever, and nobody will ever question where your kids go to school again.

Sean Payton's ex-boss in Dallas, Bill Parcells, is a free agent ... hmmm. (US Presswire)  
Sean Payton's ex-boss in Dallas, Bill Parcells, is a free agent ... hmmm. (US Presswire)  
You know the deal. Payton's family is moving to an upscale suburb of Dallas, while he continues to devote his time and energies to the care and feeding of the New Orleans Saints.

And you know what happened as soon as word leaked out -- rumors flooded the Internet that Payton was looking to get out of New Orleans and return to the Cowboys, from whence he came.

New Orleans, you see, is kind of a jumpy town, for plenty of good reasons. One year after they celebrated a Super Bowl, the fan base's sense of danger is heightened again, because:

1. Payton came from Dallas and has a relationship of some cordiality with Jerry Jones.

2. Jones has a history of not being entirely comfortable with his coaches, of which the current one, Jason Garrett, already has had almost half a season to prove his skills.

3. Tom Benson once considered moving the Saints to San Antonio.

4. Just because, OK?

If that fear seems less than fully rational -- well, what the hell does rational have to do with it? Payton is now the Cowboys' head coach-in-training because that's just the way the rumor mill has decided it must be.

And the rumor mill is never wrong. When it looks like it's about to be wrong, it just moves on to something else.

Payton knows all this, of course, because Payton is nobody's clod. He asked for a similar deal four years ago and the Saints' front office balked, believing that their coach needed to be all-in for the town. Katrina and the federal government had combined to lay and permeate waste to the town, and a commuter coach just wouldn't do.

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It's apparently OK now, though, because Payton won the town a Lombardi Trophy, and the Lombardi Trophy is as good as a top-flight real-estate agent when it comes to home searches.

Now what Payton does for and with his family is entirely his business, and would be even if he hadn't won a Super Bowl. This is our position, and please keep that in mind when you send your hysterically funny comments about what a weasel the author is.

But the fact remains that Payton is judged not only by X's and O's, W's and L's, but by anything that can be even remotely construed as affecting any of those letters. And given New Orleans' traditionally low regard for Dallas and its football team, this is the perfect confluence of history, parallel universes and good old-fashioned what-can-possibly-go-wrong-hey-this-can paranoia.

And with a lockout coming, who wouldn't want some of that to entertain us during the long hot summer months when blocking sleds are not pounded, sprints are not run and fans are not charged $30 to sweat like coal miners watching the blocking sleds and sprints?

Exactly.

So that's the deal. Sean Payton is the next coach of the Dallas Cowboys because he is the head coach of the New Orleans Saints, and we have the mortgage papers to prove it.

Next up: Tom Coughlin could be fired because of where he sent his dry cleaning last week. These and more crackpot rumors can be yours this summer, as part of our Lockout Hallucination Special. Bon appétit, fellow suckers. It's gonna be a long, painful offseason.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com.

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