NEW ORLEANS – Sean Payton is moving his family to Dallas and the Saints have no problem with it — however, many New Orleans fans do.
Payton confirmed Tuesday that he buying a house in Dallas and is moving his wife and two children to Texas while he remains the Saints' head coach.
"When my wife and I relocated our family from Dallas, we had always dreamed of someday settling there," Payton said is a statement released by the team. "We feel that now is the best time to do this. It's a decision that I'm sure many families have to confront, and I don't know if there is any one right or wrong decision — just the best one you can make for your own family."
The decision is not sitting will with numerous Saints fans who've expressed consternation and confusion over the matter on call-in shows and internet chat sites.
Saints owner Tom Benson and Mickey Loomis both issed statements of support and sounded confident that Payton was committed to sticking with the club that first made him a head coach in January of 2006.
"Sean is our head coach," Benson said. "Like we do with everyone in our organization, we support them when they need to make tough personal decisions. Sean is making a decision in the best interest of his family and he needs our support and he will get it. What I do know is that Sean is completely focused on bringing our team back to a championship."
Loomis pointed out that it is not uncommon for coaches to coach in one city while their permanent home is in another.
"This is a personal family matter for Sean and his family and after discussing it with him, I support his decision," Loomis said. "We spoke of numerous other coaches that have done the same thing successfully. I am confident that Sean will continue to be an excellent head coach for the Saints for many years to come and he remains steadfast to get our team back to the Super Bowl and bring the Lombardi Trophy back to New Orleans."
Even if that is the case, New Orleans is unlike any other NFL city because of the bond between fans and the team. The relationship has transcended the action on the gridiron since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.
Payton has taken a public relations beating the last 24 hours as rumors about his family's move began to circulate and fester for more than a day before he finally issued a statement.
Readers of the Times-Picayune's web site, nola.com, posted hundreds of messages on the subject, many expressing disenchantment with a coach they had seen as a pillar of the community.
Because Payton had been an assistant coach in Dallas from 2003-05 and maintains a friendly relationship with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, numerous fans worried that Payton may have designs on returning to his former employer.
Others were simply insulted and accused the coach of hypocrisy. Not only had Payton played a leading role in helping the Saints promote their mission to rebuild the city since Hurricane Katrina, he had also published a book, after the 2010 Super Bowl triumph, entitled: "Home Team — Coaching the Saints and New Orleans Back To Life."
Now Payton is making a change that many interpret as the coach essentially saying their town is no longer good enough for the coach's wife, Beth, and their two children, Meghan and Connor.
The subject dominated call-in shows, where some wondered allowed whether Payton was having trouble with his marriage, while others urged angry fans to stay out of the coach's personal business and give him the benefit of the doubt.
In his book, Payton recalled that when he was hired by the Saints, he considered keeping his family in Dallas, but the Saints refused, fearful it would send the wrong message. Payton wrote that he realized then that, if one was going to join the Saints after Katrina, they had to be "All in."
Payton moved into a suburban development in Mandeville, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. A couple years later, however, Payton's family had to move out of the house because it had been built with wallboard from China that was found to emit chemicals under hot and humid conditions that ruined metals in everything from jewelry to electrical wiring.
The home had to be gutted and the interior rebuilt before the Paytons could get back in.
Now they're on the move again, to a place where his children will attend a new school and make new friends — most of them Cowboys fans.