The period between the Super Bowl and the National Football League draft is usually the dullest time of the year for the avid pro football fan.

And this year was no different until the media got wind of the news that New Orleans Saints’ head coach Sean Payton is planning to move his family to an upscale suburb of the Dallas-Fort Worth area called Westlake.

Between the sports writers in the New Orleans area and those in the Metroplex region around Dallas plus the Internet bloggers, there are all kinds of scenarios being concocted in the newspapers, on local talk show radio and TV plus the Internet.

The Crescent City sportswriters are putting out speculation that Payton will be saying goodbye to the “Who Dat” nation and joining his old drinking buddy Jerry Jones either as the head coach or perhaps as the Cowboys’ general manager.

Can you imagine Jerry Jones replacing himself as general manager?

But that’s some of the crazy stories filtering around both the New Orleans and Dallas areas.

Veteran scribe Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star Telegram wrote a commentary last weekend. “Yes, the head coach of the beloved Saints is moving here with his family and they will homestead in Westlake, a local place I’ve never been because I don’t have the gate code and can’t fit the dress code.

“Westlake is home to the richest collection of residents in the U.S., I’ve been told. It is also about 15 miles due west of Valley Ranch, where Payton once worked for Jones, and their mutual admiration society is also well-known.”

The article goes on to explain that when the Saints hired Payton from Bill Parcell’s staff six years ago, Payton attempted to bargain the same deal but was turned down by the Saints’ front office. But after winning Super Bowl, his request to relocate this time was okayed.

New Orleans Picayune columnist Jeff Duncan put it more succinctly. “Understandably, Saints fans feel a sense of betrayal and skepticism. After all, he’s not moving the family to his summer home or closer to the family’s Midwestern roots. He’s moving to Dallas, a town Payton admittedly loves, where his former boss and deep-pocketed pal, Jerry Jones, operates the hated Dallas Cowboys.”

Saints quarterback Drew Brees told ESPN the whole situation is a “non-issue.” “I think everyone wants to immediately jump to conclusions and all of them are so untrue,” Brees said. “One is that his family and him are having problems. The other is that he’s taking a job with the Dallas Cowboys.”

Brees said that neither rumor is true. “There’s not a guy who’s more committed to his team and the city of New Orleans than Sean Payton. I think he’s proven that,” Brees concluded.

Payton was invited to explain his situation on local radio station WWL in New Orleans.
“My job is to coach (the Saints) and I’m under contract for two more years.” Payton pointed out. “But you know when we first came here from Dallas it’s been an area that we’ve always looked at settling in and someday retiring.

“The children are approaching high school. This is something we made as a family decision—I made as a father and husband. Beth and I spent a lot of time discussing it.

“I don’t see myself coaching 10-15 more years. My son is dying for me to be at his practice and my daughter is dying for me to be at more of her events,” he concluded.

However, New Orleans Saints’ fans are not taking too kindly to head coach Sean Payton’s decision to uproot the family, mid-contract, from the suburbs outside New Orleans and move them back to Westlake, Texas.

Picayune columnist Duncan threw some gasoline on the simmering situation when he wrote, “Dallas is the anti-New Orleans. It’s everything New Orleans is not. It’s the soul-less concrete jungle of strip malls, chain restaurants and cookie-cutter subdivisions.”
Duncan went on to add that it’s also difficult to see Payton move back for another reason—his relationship with Jerry Jones has Saints’ fans feeling a bit uneasy.

The columnist concludes, “Texas has stolen so much business and talent from New Orleans over the years, the thought of losing their Super Bowl-winning coach rightfully knots the gut of every warm-blooded Who Dat.”

As far as this Korner is concerned, Tony Dungy was a very successful head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. And during his entire tenure, Dungy’s family remained in Florida after he left Tampa Bay for Indianapolis.

But it must be remembered that Dungy chose to leave Indianapolis shortly after one of his teen-aged sons committed suicide.

Let’s hope Sean Payton’s decision to work away from his family goes a lot better than Dungy’s.

KWICKIES…It’s hard to believe that the baseball season is already upon us but today (Wednesday) both the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers pitchers and catchers report for spring training. The position players will be trickling into camp this week and next.

The Lamar men’s basketball team finally snapped its five-game losing streak Saturday night with a big 84-71 victory over Nicholls State. The Cards, 4-6 in the Southland Conference and 10-14 overall, will probably have to win most of their remaining SLC games just to make the post-season tournament, which involves the top eight teams.

And speaking of Lamar, the Cardinal football team begins its second week of spring practice, emphasizing the need for a running attack this season. Hopefully the addition of former West Orange-Stark and Navarro Junior College star tailback DePauldrick Garrett will remedy that situation.

Jerry Gray’s tenure as the Texas Longhorns’ defensive backs coach didn’t last long at his alma mater as Tennessee Titans’ new head coach Mike Munchak offered Gray $1 million a season to be the Titans’ defensive coordinator. Gray would have made $425,000 as a Longhorn assistant.

D.A. Points became the first pro golfer in over two decades to win his first career tournament at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am. Points fired a five-under 67 in Sunday’s final round to win the $1.134 million first-place money by two strokes.

Tiger Woods didn’t have the same success on the PGA European Tour Dubai Desert Classic as he entered the final round one stroke off the lead and shot a three-over 75 Sunday to finish a disappointing 20th place. To make matters worse, he was fined for spitting after missing a putt.

JUST BETWEEN US…Got to watch Sunday’s women’s college basketball game between East Carolina at the University of Houston at Hofheinz Pavilion on ESPN2. Courtney Taylor, the Lady Cougars’ top player and the reigning Conference USA Player of the Year, got into early foul trouble but was bailed out by teammate Brittney Scott of Orange who took over as the team leader and poured in most of her game-high 20 points in the early going. It was Scott’s 85th consecutive start for Houston, whose coach Todd Buchanan said Brittney was the hardest-working player he has ever coached. The Lady Coogs rolled to an easy 77-60 win for their 11th straight conference USA victory without a loss. Houston tries to keep its league record unblemished Thursday when the Lady Cougars travel to meet Tulsa in a 7 p.m. tip-off.