Every Tuesday night, yours truly visits with Todd Wright of Sporting News Radio.
This Wednesday night, Todd was scheduled to have a slightly more interesting guest: Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma.
But Todd tells us he was advised him this morning that Vilma would not be appearing on the show. Word came from a P.R. representative who works on Vilma’s behalf.
[Editor’s note: In a prior version of this story, we wrote that Wright was informed of Vilma’s unavailbility from a member of the Saints’ P.R. department. We apologize for the error.]
The P.R. representative also told Todd that Vilma was required to scuttle an appearance on ESPN’s Jim Rome is Burning, which had been scheduled for Tuesday’s show (4:30 p.m. ET).
Apparently, coach Sean Payton has instructed players to stop conducting interviews, which possibly arises from the team’s too-close-for-comfort performance against a Redskins team that has won only three games this year.
It’s unknown whether Payton will make one or more players available for conference calls with the Atlanta media as the Saints prepare to face the Falcons on Sunday. Earlier this year, the New York media wasn’t pleased with the Saints’ refusal to make players like Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, tight end Jeremy Shockey, receiver Marques Colston, and/or Vilma available for a joint interview. Payton ultimately offered up safety Darren Sharper.
The league has certain rules regarding minimum player and coach access, since media coverage constitutes free marketing. Though the league doesn’t require teams to go beyond the minimum access rules, we suspect the league prefers that players be permitted to honor commitments they’ve previously made.
Besides, at a time when the media is fully in the fleur-de-lis tank, why would Payton want to risk a backlash from the folks who rely on access in order to have interesting content?