Last Modified: Monday, November 05, 2012 10:56 PM
Just when Who Dat Nation gets to feeling a little better about things, bam ... another sucker punch comes flying from the NFL.
This one could really leave a mark, too.
The troubling year just got a little more troublesome.
Sean Payton, the head coach who turned this franchise from loveable losers into champions, is now a free agent.
The NFL, that same institution that stripped hope from New Orleans this season, declared Payton free at the end of this season after voiding his contract extension with the Saints.
Something about the wording of the new deal didn’t sit right with the league.
Nothing has really sat right with the league when it comes to the Saints the past year.
If it isn’t bounty gate, or some garbage about possible wire tapping, or even quarterback Drew Brees’ contract negotiations that seemed to last forever, Saints fans have had to put up with a lot of junk.
And we haven’t even talked about the mess on the field.
It seems this team, or even this town, just can’t catch a break.
After winning three of their last four games, including Monday night’s 28-13 victory over Philadelphia, the Saints seem to have gained a little momentum after the ugliest of starts.
That has all been washed out by the fact that the only head coach to lead them to a championship, the man who along with Brees, helped this city climb out of the deepest and darkest of holes, could be coaching elsewhere next season.
Even the thought of such things will have Saints fans coughing up their gumbo.
For the record, Payton has proclaimed his love for New Orleans and all things Saints. Word on the street is that Payton doesn’t want to go anywhere else to coach.
Word on the street has been wrong before.
Remember, Brees told us all it wasn’t about the money when he held out for what ended up being the richest contract in NFL history.
Truth is, it’s always about the money.
And if you thought the Brees contract was a distraction, watch out. If Payton wants to go job hunting, and he has every right to exercise that option, then the Brees thing will be a walk in the park.
It’s hard to believe that the very same group of men who took away Payton’s right to work this year in the NFL because of the bounty mess have now turned him into the hottest head coach out there.
Based on how the Saints have played this year without him, Payton’s market value has never been and will likely never be any higher. He has every right to cash in on that fact.
Payton will have plenty of options if he chooses to go looking as well.
Dallas quickly comes to mind. Payton does own a house there and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is a good friend.
A bidding war might be ready to kickoff.
Clearly, Saints owner Tom Benson has the money to pay Payton. He just bought the Hornets for goodness sake. But Benson, unlike Jones, hasn’t always been as quick on the draw when it comes to opening his wallet.
Still, you have to believe that if Sean Payton wants to be coaching the Saints next year, he will do it with a healthy raise.
Then again, have you seen the team this year, maybe all the money in the world might not be enough. But you can say the same thing about that mess in Dallas as well.
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Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at email@example.com