AFR: Apathetic response to Payton coaching rumors speaks volumes

AFR: Apathetic response to Payton coaching rumors speaks volumes

We've come to know them as 'splash reports.' And it happened again on Sunday. NFL Network's Ian Rapaport reported Sean Payton was open to other opportunities in 2016. Not only that, he cited Saints sources that claimed they would let Payton out of his contract should he chose to walk.

It was all set to explode and be the dominant topic of the day yet again.

But then a funny thing happened.

It didn't.

The Saints went on to lose Tennessee and Payton became a 4-5 head coach for the second year in a row. That became the big storyline, not a head coach who may or may not be plotting his next move. No follow-up questions at the post-game press conference. No real anxious fans concerned that they might be losing their head coach. No over-the-top criticism or discussion about the Saints potentially letting Payton walk without compensation. The topic was broached briefly then everyone moved on.

On Monday night, it happened again. This time from Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson who went into even more detail about the 'out clauses' in Payton's contract and the likelihood of him leaving.

It barely moved the needle. In fact, Matt Flynn signing with the Saints got even more buzz.

This was as telling as any Rapaport report could ever be.

For starters, it shows just how well-versed everyone is at this point with this game. When something like that comes out on a gameday or even one day later, we now know exactly what's at play. We also know it won't be the last time it comes up either.

But even with all that, there's an air of nonchalance, a 'so what' feeling to it all here in New Orleans.

When this same scenario occurred in 2012, a flurry of tweets, emails and phone calls followed from panicked Saints fans who were upset that Payton may be on his way out.

But those were the red-hot days of Sean Payton. Now, we've entered the luke-warm phase. And maybe that's being too nice. With a second straight team mired in mediocrity, there's an unmistakable feeling of whatever happens will happen with SP. And everyone seems to be just fine with that.

If he is the coach next season in New Orleans, great. If he isn't, that's okay too.

There is no longer a feeling of invincibility. There is no longer this fear from a fan base who at one point worshipped the ground he walked on. Sure, everyone understands what he has accomplished and they're incredibly thankful. And everyone knows that he could move on and be the best coach in the NFL again. But everyone also understands nothing lasts forever. And maybe, just maybe, the Payton era has run its course here in New Orleans.