Bright Side for Saints in Season-Long Suspension of Payton
The news media learned this week that Sean Payton essentially cannot have any contact with anyone in the N.F.L. during his season-long suspension. Many people in New Orleans believe Roger Goodell has been overzealous in punishing their team.
It could have been worse, Saints fans. If Goodell really wanted to ruin your team in 2012, he could have suspended your coach through only mid-December. At first blush, that may sound like a lighter punishment. But think of the chaos this would have caused the Saints. At least with a full-season suspension, New Orleansís interim head coach could fully settle in for 2012*. But if Paytonís suspension were shorter ó and everyone knew he was to return in, say, Week 14 ó the interim coach would suddenly have a lot less power and credibility.
Thatís not all. With a mid-December return, Paytonís looming presence would be a constant distraction, and would complicate a Saints playoff chase. If the Saints were rolling, would his return shake up their flow and chemistry? What kind of message would that send? Would they decide to stick with their temporary status quo and keep Payton away? What kind of message would that send?
No matter what, Paytonís value would be publicly analyzed and judged. There would be differing opinions on the matter and no right answer. The chances that Payton would be humiliated by the sheer awkwardness of it all would be about 100 percent.
The N.F.L. would never issue this sort of truncated suspension. But boy, it would have made for some very compelling drama if they had.
*The twist, of course, is that the Saints named Joe Vitt their interim head coach. Vitt is the only other coach on the staff who is also suspended (the first six games). So he canít ďfully settle inĒ as head coach
Bright Side for Saints in Season-Long Suspension of Payton - NYTimes.com
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