When Sean Payton walked away from New Orleans, many thought the stage was set for him to eventually coach one of the NFL’s most prominent franchises.
Payton has a connection to the Cowboys, having coached in Dallas for three seasons before taking the job with the Saints. Coincidentally, a first-round playoff exit for America’s Team diminished the already slim optimism that surrounds Mike McCarthy.
The 58-year-old Payton was on hand at Radio Row in Los Angeles for the lead-up to Super Bowl LVI and addressed the Cowboys chatter in a conversation with Sports Illustrated’s Ashley Nicole Moss.
“Well, look, No. 1 is I worked in Dallas for three years and got very close to the Jones family. My experience there was outstanding,” Payton told Moss. “I went with coach (Bill) Parcells back in ’03 and then from there got hired to New Orleans. It was challenging for the first five, six, seven years in New Orleans. We had early success, we had a lot of success. So whenever there was an unsettling of personnel or coaches in Dallas, that was something that Saints fans — man, they got very impatient hearing. I think after 10 years, 11 years, 15 years certainly, that dissipated.
“I know Mike, they’ve got a great staff there. My focus really has shifted to kind of joining the likes of you, what you guys do. I’m anxious to work in media, I’m anxious to be a part of a network, I’m anxious to still be close to the game. I never said, ‘Hey, I’m never gonna coach again.’ But I do think this, or anything, requires a lot of attention to detail, a lot of work. So, that’s kind of where my focus is.”
Moss then asked Payton if he would consider coaching the Cowboys at some point down the line once he scratches his media itch and his desire to step back on the sideline potentially returns.
“Absolutely. It wouldn’t be one team, it could be a number of teams,” Payton said. “Those things even came up after the season, after I stepped away. There was discussions with a few teams. I just felt like right now I want to try something different.”
Should the Cowboys slide at any point over the course of the 2022 season, you can expect the Payton discourse to rev up in a major way.