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CBSSports.com National Columnist

Uproar over Payton's place negates sympathy for New Orleans

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Hate Mail: Stuck in vicious cycle of Hate

Sentiment shifts fast nowadays. I don't care how popular, powerful or even sympathetic you are -- give us a reason, and we'll turn on you like that. LeBron James can tell you. He gave us a reason. We turned on him.

Now it's you, New Orleans.

You're giving us a reason, and lots of us -- me, for starters -- are going to turn on you.

If Sean Payton thinks moving his family to Dallas is best, New Orleans must accept it. (Getty Images)  
If Sean Payton thinks moving his family to Dallas is best, New Orleans must accept it. (Getty Images)  
Folks there are angry with Saints coach Sean Payton for moving his family to Dallas, although "angry" doesn't do this justice. They feel abandoned. Betrayed. Ambushed -- and I'm not talking about the hysterics on talk radio. I'm talking about calm, rational people like this sportswriter from the local paper, who compared Payton's move to a marital separation and said "New Orleans was hit with [an] ... ambush."

The New Orleans fans who hit the message boards below that story? They were the hysterics. One reader called the timing of the move, so close to the Super Bowl, "despicable, inexcusable and unforgivable ... a devastating blow to New Orleans, to our image, to our recovery."

Another reader complained that "this move makes me feel like a sap, who's been 'had' by my Coach."

And someone calling himself "KewlBrees" wrote that the move "borderlines on pure arrogance. It's like pouring salt in a wound. ... Is [Payton] just that cocky? He has a ring [so] he thinks he has a free pass."

You're right, KewlBrees. Payton does think he has a free pass -- not as a Super Bowl champion but as a husband, as a father, as a human being -- to move his wife and kids where they want to live. And you know what? Payton is correct. He can move his family to Dallas if he wants. Hell, he can move his family to Jerry Jones' guest house if he wants. It's his business. Not yours. And nice username, KewlBrees. Did it come with a complimentary Ed Hardy shirt?

New Orleans people see this is as the first step in Payton's dastardly plan to coach the Cowboys. Never mind that Jason Garrett just got the permanent Cowboys job, or that Garrett did well enough on an interim basis in the second half of 2010 to show he deserves it. No, this is all part of Payton's plan to leave the Saints for the Cowboys. Payton is so confident that Garrett will fail that he's moving his family to another state, where he won't see his kids for weeks at a time, as he waits. And waits. And waits.

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Back on planet Earth, the problem here is obvious. The problem is the city Payton left behind. This isn't Marvin Lewis deciding not to live in Cincinnati, or Pete Carroll moving his family out of Seattle. New Orleans was the site of a bona fide tragedy, the worst natural disaster this country had seen in 75 years. Hurricane Katrina was horrific, and what happened to that city in 2005 was terrifying.

But that doesn't give New Orleans, and the people who live there, a free pass to play the victim card as an excuse for trying to run Sean Payton's life. And it's not going to stop people like me, and others I hope, from calling out New Orleans for this pity party.

Payton's family lived there for five years. They gave it a shot, but the city isn't what the parents want for their children. That's their right, and if it hurts your feelings, New Orleans, get over it. Your city isn't everyone's dream. Dallas has apparently been the Payton family's dream destination since Payton was a Cowboys assistant from 2003-05. For whatever reason, that city got into the Paytons' blood. And you folks in New Orleans are going to pitch a fit because of it? Really? How important do you think you are?

This is going to be really hard for anyone self-centered enough to judge another man for living where he wants to live, but do your best and indulge me. Imagine being Sean Payton this week as the "news" breaks that his family is moving to a Dallas suburb.

Radio shows and websites go nuts. Two days later, the top three stories on the website of the New Orleans Times-Picayune are still about the Payton family move, including one story that offered a slideshow of pictures of Payton's Texas house.

Again, you're Sean Payton. All you've done is lead the Saints, previously the biggest joke of a franchise in the NFL, to a 49-31 record and three playoff appearances in five years. That includes the first Super Bowl title in franchise history. Payton did that, and he did that while raising two young children in a city that was devastated by Katrina. The Paytons were there. They lived through some of the hardest, the longest, the most wretched days of recovery.

Five years pass, and now Payton's kids are close to high school. This isn't some TV show -- this is their life, and they want their kids to launch that life from Dallas. Lord knows the Paytons have the resources to make it happen, and Payton himself will live in New Orleans during the season. He is willing to sacrifice daily contact with his wife and kids, because that's how badly they want to live in Dallas.

And you people in New Orleans, you strangers, are going nuts about it?

Like it's any of your business?

Get over yourself, New Orleans. What happened to you in 2005 was tragic, and your recovery since then has been nothing short of heroic. But get your nose out of Sean Payton's personal life.

It's pathetic. And people are watching.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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