The NFL has been clear to all organizations: any contact between players and coaches is strictly forbidden. While Sean Payton hasn’t been caught for having any contact with his own players, a story broke that Payton played “beach football” over the 4th of July weekend with Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Troy Aikman and Bobby Carpenter. 3 of those 4 guys are current NFL players.
We know that Payton has a relationship with both Romo and Witten from his days of coaching the Cowboys as an assistant, and we know that Payton’s family recently relocated to Dallas full time so he probably sees those guys a fair amount.
A couple things of worry here:
1. Will Sean Payton get in trouble with the NFL?
2. Does this re-stoke the fire of Sean Payton to the Cowboys?
Not that Payton’s finances are of my concern, so if he gets some token fine I don’t really care, but what if he gets suspended, or if the NFL decides to make an example out of him and punishes the Saints in some way? Unlikely I know, and this is mere speculation, but I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea that Sean Payton is bending the rules. That seems to be a something he has a penchant for.
As for Payton and his Dallas connection, again, that’s something I’m not very comfortable with. I know that’s the reality of pro sports, but it’s something I’ve never fully come to terms with as a fan. Payton is treating the Saints more and more like a job. He’s moved away, his family is firmly rooted in the Dallas community now, and while he still does a lot of things for New Orleans that we should appreciate it just has that feel that he’s a hired gun. Players are much the same in this day and age with free agency. Many of these guys don’t really care about the city they play in too much and they’d happily go play/coach for someone else if the pay and quality of life was better. They’re basically mercenaries, and Sean Payton’s move to Dallas and his quality time spent with Cowboys players is a painful reminder that his time with the Saints organization is finite. That’s the business, though. It goes both ways. The Saints could fire him tomorrow and he would be on the street, so loyalty can only go so far when the nature of your relationship is “we only love you if you succeed”. But Sean Payton isn’t a coach desperate for an opportunity anymore, the tables have turned. Now the Saints are operating more on his terms as oppose to the other way around. And now we’re seeing he wasn’t in love with the idea of being a head coach for the New Orleans Saints. He admitted as much in his book. And maybe that’s ok. At the end of the day, if he honors his contract and continues to work hard for the team with the same approach – then can we really complain about the team’s success at the expense that Sean Payton is treating his job as exactly that?