NBA and NFL storylines rarely crossover into each other’s lane, but this one is certainly an insane one that changed the entire make-up of one league.
After Sean Payton announced his decision to leave the Saints on Tuesday, the speculation about the 58-year-old becoming the next head coach of the Cowboys spread like wildfire across social media.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the Cowboys were planning to part ways with Jason Garrett in 2019 after they had made arrangements with Sean Payton and the Saints to make him their next head coach. Unfortunately for owner Jerry Jones, the shut was shut on his dream all because of an NBA star.
“The year was 2019. The month, January. The Cowboys had won 10 of 16 games, along with a wild-card contest against the Seahawks. They lost to the Rams in the divisional round, 30-22. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones contemplated an upgrade from coach Jason Garrett to Sean Payton. Jones wanted to pull the trigger. Payton did, too.
Things unfolded quickly. The Saints had played in the NFC Championship, losing to the Rams on January 20. That week, Jones quietly made his move.
It was a delicate situation, for various reasons. First, the Cowboys had a coach. Jones wouldn’t have fired Garrett unless he knew he could have gotten Payton. Second, league rules (specifically, the Rooney Rule) require a diverse and inclusive search. Third, Jones had to ultimately know that, after going through the motions of a search, he’d be able to get Payton.
So a deal was worked out, behind the scenes. The Saints would have allowed the Cowboys to hire Payton. The Cowboys would have compensated the Saints for the rights to Payton’s contract. And Payton would have signed a new contract with the Cowboys.
It was ready to go. It was happening. It was locked, and it was loaded. Then came Monday, January 28. On that day, New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis announced he would not sign another contract with the team, and he requested a trade. (In July, the Pelicans traded him to the Lakers.)
Gayle Benson owns both the Pelicans and the Saints. Saints G.M. Mickey Loomis was, as of January 2019, the executive vice president of basketball operations with the Pelicans. Once Davis made clear his intention to leave New Orleans, Loomis told Payton that Loomis couldn’t be the common thread between a pair of such high-profile Louisiana departures.
That ended it, just like that. The Saints were no longer interested in essentially trading Payton to the Cowboys. In September, Payton signed a new contract. That deal has three years left on it.”
There you have it, Benson wasn’t about to lose two Louisiana sports heroes at the same time.
Payton is rumored to go the TV route in retirement and the Cowboys currently have coach Mike McCarthy. Now that he is suddenly available, could Jones finally get his wish despite Payton saying he doesn’t plan on coaching in 2022?
Anything is possible, but we will have to wait until the 2022 season is over to find out.
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