When news broke Monday that Sean Payton intended to relocate to Dallas and commute to New Orleans for his job as coach of the Saints, it seemed an awful lot like a non-story. Quite frankly, it still does.
It seems unfair, especially for an outsider, to judge Payton over such a personal matter. The Saints felt obligated to release a statement Tuesday supporting his decision, in which Payton said is the best one for his family. He’s hardly the first coach who won’t live in the same city he coaches during the NFL offseason, and will reportedly keep his local residence.
One person with an inside perspective is Saints beat columnist Jeff Duncan of the The Times-Picayune. In a column he posted Tuesday, Duncan raises several worthwhile questions regarding Payton and the impact of his decision on the New Orleans community.
To be fair, Duncan begins by saying if Payton is making the move for his family, then “his intentions are understandable and admirable.” But he also wonders aloud about the potential repercussions and believes Peyton has opened himself up to “widespread” scrutiny.
“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.
“I don’t have any doubt about Payton’s commitment to the Saints, and his competitive drive is unquestioned. He’s fiercely loyal to Loomis, Benson, his players and staff, and he’ll undoubtedly remain that way.
“But plain and simple, this just looks bad.
“New Orleans is the most proudly provincial city in America, and there’s no room for fence-sitters in post-Katrina New Orleans. You’re all in or you’re all out.”
Saints fans, do you feel the same way? Team management supports the move, at least publicly. Is this an issue? Does this compromise Payton’s ability to perform his job, or is the issue at hand that your head coach is a lesser part of the community at large?