Sean Payton can't seem to get away from his connection to the Dallas Cowboys.
There was the bottle of wine he nabbed from Jerry Jones at the 2010 draft combine, the house he bought in Dallas that touched off all kinds of rumors about his future as coach of the Saints and, now, the training camp site he's using after learning about it during his time on the Cowboys staff. Payton took his team to Oxnard, Calif., this week to get away from the stifling heat and humidity of August in New Orleans.
The space was available because the Cowboys pared down their training camp schedule in the wake of the lockout. After splitting time between San Antonio and Oxnard in recent years, the Cowboys were only at the Alamodome this summer in the interest of keeping things as simple as possible. The Saints swooped in and they don't sound like they plan to give the town back without a fight.
"We just practiced for a little bit over two and a half hours and got another 25 percent more done because of the weather," Payton said. "You just find yourself taking less water breaks, the amount of times you have to break when it's 100 or 95 or when it's 75, it's just different."
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Saints' arrival has "resurrected the Cowboys' interest in the facility and that, in 2012, the two clubs could find themselves in a bidding war." Dallas' deal with San Antonio has expired, which means they are free agents when it comes to where they'll spend training camps in the future.
Jerry Jones told ESPN Dallas that he remains in contact with Oxnard officials, as well as those in San Antonio, and that he likes to hold split training camps. While there are football benefits to practicing on Oxnard's grass fields in pleasant weather conditions, Jones' interest is undoubtedly also spurred by spreading the Cowboys brand to as many different places as possible.
That might be where the Saints' visit to California threatens Jones the most. The aftermath of the hurricanes followed by the Super Bowl run two years ago made the Saints a big favorite around the country and they sold out all the merchandise they brought to Oxnard in the blink of an eye, something that surely threatens a man who hasn't run away from the "America's Team" label slapped on the Cowboys long before he got to town.
There's not a long history of fights over training camp sites nor are there many fights over Oxnard. We might have one brewing, though, and it will be interesting to see how far Double J is willing to go to make sure that Oxnard keeps flying the blue star above their fields.