Forgotten, at least for now, in the looming suspension of Saints coach Sean Payton is the fact that FOX has expressed an interest in hiring him for 2012. And that has sparked plenty of chatter about his possible value as a game analyst.
But here’s the problem. With FOX handling the NFC package and with Payton proclaiming that he’ll be back coaching the Saints in 2013, what head coach in his right mind would invite Payton into practice or a production meeting?
Apart from the fact that Payton easily could take notes for use in 2013 is the possibility that Payton and the team’s interim head coach could communicate via an undocumented bat phone. We’re not saying the Payton would violate the terms of his suspension; the point is that some coaches will fear that he may — and as a result they won’t want Payton anywhere near their teams.
If you think it’s paranoia run amok, you don’t understand how football coaches think. Some coaches are still nervous about Brian Billick being present at practice, given that his brother-in-law is Falcons coach Mike Smith, even though there’s no reason to believe Billick would funnel information to Smith.
And so, if Payton is going to go into broadcasting in 2012, he’ll likely be relegated to a studio show, unless FOX is willing to have him work games without having an opportunity to prepare in the way that other game analysts do. At FOX, it would mean adding another seat to the five-man table.
At ESPN, which has yet to show an interest in Payton, he could simply fill Bill Parcells’ seat.