Why Sean Payton’s Shadow Is Hovering Over Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy – Dallas Cowboys Blog

FRISCO, Texas — Sean Payton has decided to step down from coaching the New Orleans Saints. Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones pushed the question back when asked if Mike McCarthy would be his team’s coach in 2022.

You don’t have to connect many dots to see Payton coaching the Cowboys, something Jones has thought long and hard about many times since his loss to New Orleans in 2006.

Basically, if Jones wants to be fair to Mike McCarthy, he has to act for Payton – as the Saints still own his contractual rights – or come out and say McCarthy is his coach. Of course, that won’t end the speculation. But at least it stifles some of the conversation between now and the start of the regular season.

(By the way, if McCarthy is being ripped off by some for only winning one Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers, why doesn’t Payton get rapped for only winning one Super Bowl with Drew Brees?

McCarthy made the playoffs nine times with the Green Bay Packers, including four NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl. Payton made the playoffs nine times, including three NFC championship games and one Super Bowl.)

Once the season starts, McCarthy will be looking over his shoulder at all times. Each loss is dissected through the Payton prism. Dak Prescott’s development is evaluated through the Payton prism.

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Before Payton arrived in New Orleans, the Saints had a .403 winning percentage, five 10-win seasons and one playoff win from 1967 to 2005. From 2006 through 2021, the Saints had a .617 win percentage, nine 10-win seasons and nine playoff wins.

Payton is just 58 years old. He admitted he was exhausted after a season in which his team was relocated to Fort Worth for a while due to a hurricane, saw Brees’ replacement Jameis Winston injured and weathered a string of injuries and COVID-19 missouts.

The Saints had a chance to make the playoffs until the last week of the season and failed.

The affinity between Jones and Payton is well known.

“He’s done so many things for our game, not just for the Dallas Cowboys,” Payton said when Jones was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “If you started putting together a highlight and saying ‘Jerry’ after any subject, we would say Jerry a lot. The network, Jerry. Let the game grow, Jerry. That’s how he thinks.”

Payton spent three seasons with the Cowboys under Bill Parcells. He nearly joined the Raiders after the 2004 season until Jones and Parcells persuaded him to stay, thanks in part to a raise.

“Sean gets it,” Parcells said when he was Dallas’ coach. “He really gets it. …And he knows what’s important, and he’s absolutely a great listener. He is very intelligent, creative and I respect him very much. I really do.”

At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, after winning the Saints’ Super Bowl, Payton intercepted a bottle of 2007 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon that Jones had reserved for his annual staff dinner at the St. Elmo Steakhouse.

Payton autographed the empty bottle, which was delivered to Jones the following evening.

Everyone had a hearty laugh and they laughed even harder after a waiter knocked over the bottle and saw it shatter into pieces.

There have been countless rumors about Payton’s eventual return to Dallas.

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For years he kept a house in suburban Dallas. The year he was suspended from the NFL (he missed the 2012 season in punishment for the Saints’ bounty scandal), he was helping coach at Liberty Christian in Argyle, Texas. Depending on who you speak to, the Cowboys and Saints had discussions about Payton’s return to the Cowboys at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, not long after Jason Garrett’s tenure as Dallas head coach (2010-19).

Payton referenced the number of times he was linked with the Cowboys during the 2021 regular season, particularly when he could have waited to be Parcells’ eventual replacement.

“See, there was no time frame. So, some of you (in the media), you’ve been here, it’s finally been eight years, when ‘He doesn’t join the Cowboys.’ Or Class 9, ‘He doesn’t go?’” Payton said.

If it ever stopped, it started again.

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