Payton-to-Dallas Rumors Addressed

How these things get started is anybody's guess, but the latest drama surrounding the team that creates drama better than any other — the Dallas Cowboys — had New Orleans head coach Sean Payton stepping down as the Saints' coach to become general manager of the Dallas Cowboys.

So rampant were the rumors over Super Bowl weekend that the Saints felt compelled to release a statement Monday insisting that Payton wasn't going anywhere.

There are reports circulating that Payton is building a home in the Dallas area. Property ownership, however, does not mean some is necessarily moving to that area. Head coaches make a lot of money — Payton is building his house in addition to the one in which he lives in the New Orleans area.

From the start, this Payton-back-to-Dallas rumor had flaws:

• The Cowboys have a general manager, and his job security is the best in the league. Never mind the fact that in the past 14 seasons, Dallas has won one playoff game. The safest bet in football is that owner Jerry Jones will not replace general manager Jerry Jones. Now that he has gotten through his job of hosting the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who played the Super Bowl in his stadium, he is getting back to the process of evaluating free agents and draft candidates, so he can decide whom he and the rest of the Cowboys' personnel department want to bring to Dallas.

• Payton has a job — a good job — as head coach of a team that won the Super Bowl last year and has the players in place to make a run at another, or perhaps several more. • Payton is not a general manager. He's a coach.

The last two, of course, can be overcome in certain situations. There are coaches, of course, who have taken on general manager duties — sometimes in a dual role while still coaching, other times instead of roaming the sidelines. And while Payton is under contract to New Orleans, it wouldn't be unheard of for someone to break a contract with one team to join another.

After the Saints' statement was released, Payton also made an effort to squelch the idea that he has his heart set on the unavailable Dallas general manager position. He maintained his dedication to the Saints and his position within the organization, and said he will "commute" between the two cities.

The immediate — and inaccurate — assumption was that Payton actually would fly back and forth every day. Given any amount of thought, that idea carried no logic at all. Like just about all head coaches, Payton is renowned for the extraordinary hours he spends at the office, and spending three hours a day at 35,000 feet made no sense whatsoever. Instead, Payton said his family will come from the Dallas area to New Orleans on weekends during the season, and he will fly to North Texas on weekends during the offseason, when he'll have more time to spend with his family.

Payton and Jones had a good working relationship when Payton was an assistant coach for the Cowboys, and they maintain a strong friendship. But Payton knows Jones is not giving up the general manager's job any time soon.

Of course, if the Cowboys found themselves in need of a new head coach one day … that is a position in which Payton might well have some interest one day. But considering the way the team performed under then-interim head coach Jason Garrett after he took over for Wade Phillips last season, it's hard to imagine the team making a change for at least two or three years, if not longer, and there's no telling what other jobs around the league will have changed by then.

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