The phrase “beach football” for many NFL fans conjures images of Robert Edwards blowing out his knee during Pro Bowl week after the 1998 season. Notwithstanding the career-altering (it can’t be called career-ending because Edwards eventually made it back to the NFL, albeit briefly) injury, NFL players still play beach football from time to time.
Most recently, a game of beach football involving Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, and Lions linebacker Bobby Carpenter unfolded, along with Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman — and Saints coach Sean Payton.
Per Brian Allee-Walsh of sportsNOLA.com, the game was played in WaterColor, Florida, near Payton’s vacation home.
“I played a little safety, a little wide receiver and Romo was struggling at quarterback so I went in and threw him a touchdown pass,’’ Payton said. “Aikman led his team on a 2-minute drive that ended up tying the game. After about a half an hour, the adults were ready to quit and the kids were screaming for more. But it was fun.’’
The “fun” also may have been a violation of the league’s lockout rules. When the lockout began, a strict no-contact policy supposedly was put in place. After Commissioner Roger Goodell spent an hour on the phone with Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco, the league explained that “normal social interaction” is permissible. But then the vibe re-emerged that no contact should be had, but for situations involving established team charitable activities, and where permission has been obtained (e.g., Cowboys owner Jerry Jones receiving “special permission” to attend Romo’s wedding). Indeed, the Dolphins said after receiver Brandon Marshall caught something other than a football that the team couldn’t contact him in any way, because of the lockout rules.
Then there’s the reality that the league doesn’t seem to be inclined to do anything to police potential violations or enforce the rules in this regard. So we’d be surprised if anything comes of it, especially as the lockout possibly (emphasis: possibly) moves toward a conclusion.
Apart from the lockout, and as Allee-Walsh points out, Saints fans already leery of Payton’s recent move to the Dallas area won’t feel much better about Payton’s not-so-normal social interaction with Romo and Witten.