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Saints' Payton hosts beach football game with Cowboys stars

  • By NFL.com
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New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton had to go on vacation to find a football game.

Payton, at his holiday home in WaterColor, Fla., organized a beach football clash Saturday with a Dallas Cowboys-heavy guest list: quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten and Hall of Fame signal-caller Troy Aikman. Detroit Lions linebacker Bobby Carpenter, formerly of the Cowboys, also joined in the spirited 7-on-7 matchup, according to SportsNola.com.

"It got so competitive to where the whole beach was watching," Payton told the website. "A highlight for me was my son Connor caught a touchdown pass from Romo. No, he didn't spike it -- he knows better."

For those wondering if Payton's beach football game violates the lingering lockout's "no-contact" policy, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tweeted in April that it does allow for "normal social interaction" between players and coaches.

Payton served as an assistant with the Cowboys from 2003 to 2005 and ruffled some feathers in March when he moved his family from New Orleans to a gated community in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, leading to rumors that he was eyeing a front-office position with the Cowboys, according to SportsNOLA.com. But Payton, who has two more years on his Saints contract, hasn't given any indication that he's looking to move on from the team.

Payton said his assistants decided to take their scheduled vacations this month with hopes that the season will start on time.

"It's been real quiet," Payton said. "Obviously, we pay attention. We're all waiting to hear good news. I get the news from the Internet, or the newspaper, or the TV just like you do. I'll touch base once a week with (Saints general manager) Mickey (Loomis)."

Payton acknowledged that the lockout presents new challenges to coaches and front-office personnel around the league.

"There are going to have to be some ground rules to operate that transition into training camp," Payton said. "If you were to ask me what's the first thing I'd like to have, it's a period of time with the rookies to get them jump-started like you normally would have had after the draft.

"That has been in the back of my mind as something that's possibly on the horizon, if and when this is resolved within a certain time frame. We'd like to do that, but we'll have to acquiesce to whatever we're told by the league. But what I'd like to do is have a 2- or 3-day rookie orientation. I'd like to have that take place before the start of training camp if it's possible. It may not be."

Said Payton: "I'm optimistic that we're going to play preseason games. I'm sure there is a lot to do, but the good news is, it's July 2nd. I know there is the Hall of Fame Game in early August, and there are other things to consider, but logistics vary from team to team. I really think the only thing you can do is remain optimistic and just stay on top of it as best you can."

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