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Payton profile plows little new ground

Jacksonville Jaguars v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

NFL coaches can be big jerks.  Sean Payton is an NFL coach.  Thus, Sean Payton can be a big jerk.

That pretty much summarizes the latest Outside The Lines report regarding the Saints, from ESPN’s John Barr.

We’ve heard the stories over the years.  Payton can be arrogant and vindictive and mean spirited when dealing with the media.  And, yes, he has done some things that are over the top — as his one-year suspension confirms.

So have other coaches.

It doesn’t make it right.  But it goes with the territory.  And it flows from the physical, rough-and-tumble nature of the sport.

“He wanted every player on the team to have swag,” former Saints defensive end Charles Grant said of Payton.  “Even if you was in the front office, he wanted you to have swag.”

The Saints have dealt with a series of problems in recent years, many of which flow from the fact that former employees (who possibly didn’t have enough “swag”) are sufficiently unhappy with the team to file lawsuits and talk to reporters and, in the case of the bounty investigation, blow the whistle to the league.  This means that, at one or more levels, the Saints have a chronic people problem that they need to solve.

The Saints also made the poor decision (and they’ll surely admit it in hindsight) to associate with Mike Ornstein, who as we’ve been told even had a locker at the team’s facility.  “We were trying to get rid of him,” an unnamed league official told Barr regarding Ornstein, “because frankly he’s a cancer.”

If the league office had been trying to get rid of Ornstein, they didn’t do a good enough job of it.  And the common theory in league circles is that, if/when Ornstein becomes sufficiently disgruntled with the league office, he could bring others down with him.

During the report, Barr explained that he received a “threatening phone call from an anonymous caller wondering why were were out to dig up information about the Saints.”  Barr said it was later determined that the call came from team spokesman Greg Bensel’s cell phone.  Bensel denied to Barr that Bensel made the call, and Bensel didn’t say who had.

Of course, Barr didn’t mention — at all — his apparent swing and a miss regarding the report that G.M. Mickey Loomis had the ability in 2002 to eavesdrop on opposing coaches.  It’s possible that the “threatening phone call” came at or about the time Barr dropped that misplaced bombshell, and it’s believed within the Saints organization (we’re told) that the Loomis story was all Barr could find after being sent to New Orleans to somehow, some way advance the ball on a bounty story that had percolated for two years, right under the noses of ESPN’s journalistic army.

Barr also didn’t say how the call was “threatening.”  What was the specific threat?  No more access for ESPN?  Physical violence?  Possible dumping into a cold tub?

It’s almost as if the reporting has become personal.  That ESPN is playing the “don’t mess with the guy who buys his ink by the truckload” card.

Yes, that’s a real dynamic in the media.  And it’s important for media outlets to try to strike the right balance between editorial decisions based on whether the story is truly newsworthy or whether, as in this case, ESPN simply wanted to give the Saints a taste of their own medicine.

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22 Responses to “Payton profile plows little new ground”
  1. rolling my eyes at the world says: Aug 19, 2012 9:49 AM

    That was all about sour grapes. Kaare Johnson and WIST Radio got their 15 minutes and their vindication and ESPN got an opportunity to bring up the so called wiretapping incident and remind the nation they still stand behind the story. Shoddy and sensationalistic reporting.

  2. spicymudbugs says: Aug 19, 2012 9:56 AM

    Let’s see…Barr is embarrassed earlier in the year because his story alleging Loomis spied on other teams was proven to be false and completely made up.
    Karre Johnson and WIST radio have the ratings of a college radio station.
    Sour grapes, jealously and vindictiveness can be an ugly thing.
    Nothing to see here..please move on

  3. nomad57 says: Aug 19, 2012 9:57 AM

    Larry Holder (who was mentioned in the OTL piece-

    Larry Holder ‏@Larry_Holder

    I don’t think the local media is “scared” of Sean Payton as was reported on OTL. That’s a little over the top.

    -P.S. John Barr did the report.

    -Regardless of what ESPN’s OTL reported, Sean Payton and I don’t have this contentious relationship. I’d say we’re on very good terms.

    -It’s amazing how childish ESPN is being. They should apologize for being wrong about Loomis listening through Walls

    -why would Espn let facts get in the way of a good story?

  4. effjohntaylornorelation says: Aug 19, 2012 10:00 AM

    As it is in most companies where there are culture issues, the speed of the ship is the speed of the captain.

  5. chuckybadger says: Aug 19, 2012 10:19 AM

    Another OTL drive by. Why not go ahead and just get Olbermann to host it?

  6. geauxjay says: Aug 19, 2012 10:39 AM

    If ESPN spent half as much time pointing out the errors and inaccuracies in the commissioner’s investigation as they are spending smearing the team on behalf of the commissioner in the court of public opinion…..

    This is truly embarrassing, ESPN. Instead of apologizing, you send the same hack “journalist” out to trash the team some more.

    This is even more embarrassing than your Tebow coverage.

  7. flipx99 says: Aug 19, 2012 11:13 AM

    The piece assumed as fact that there was a bounty on Mike Karney. There is absolutely no evidence to support that. The “slide” used by G. Williams in the locker room was simply critical of the Rams’ offensive performance while Karney was on the field.

    If anything, that would suggest that the Saints’ defense would want Karney on the field as much as possible.

    Also, they point to Karney being cut on the eve of his wedding as proof of SP’s vindictiveness. However, they never give the viewer any reason why SP would be vindictive toward Karney. If we are to buy into a theory that this was an act of revenge, than I think we need to know — revenge for what?

  8. harryglyphics says: Aug 19, 2012 11:14 AM

    At least the piece brought up Ornstein’s name, whom I still contend is at the heart of this affair.
    It’s not about putting the hurt on somebody but about where the money came from.

  9. melikefootball says: Aug 19, 2012 11:24 AM

    The darlings of the South are showing they aren’t as squeky clean as advertised.

  10. russ51 says: Aug 19, 2012 11:47 AM

    harryglphics, WHERE THE MONEY CAME FROM!

    Ornstein is in jail, he is bankrupt, any money he has is controlled by the courts. If he had thousands of dollars it would go to settle his debts.

    Maybe the bankruptcy court is involved in this too,ESPN should investigate.

  11. pobreezy says: Aug 19, 2012 11:57 AM

    This was a very one sided “report”. I thought it was funny because through this piece it seemed as though they relied on (through interviews and “commentary”) opinion instead of facts which is hilarious if you think that this is the same person who started an erroneous FBI investigation founded on opinion instead of facts. Guess he was asked to find as many people that had dirt on Payton this time. Hack journalists…

  12. silentcount says: Aug 19, 2012 12:11 PM

    So, in conclusion, Sean Payton is a very good coach who started from scratch and built a team to go to the NFC championship game in his first year, and then a Superbowl win a few years later. No good deed will go unpunished.

  13. profootballwalk says: Aug 19, 2012 12:50 PM

    NBC on ESPN crime. Never forget that PFT is just another NBC web site, and NBC competes with ESPN.

    This is like Pepsi reporting on Coke.

  14. usmutts says: Aug 19, 2012 12:59 PM

    Another OTL drive by. Why not just go ahead and get the drug addict Rush Limbaugh to host it?

  15. tvlgds says: Aug 19, 2012 1:05 PM

    ESPIN continues their hack journalism. It’s so obvious that it’s personal for them – pure hack attacks. I’m sorry I wasted my time even watching it.

  16. dave61548 says: Aug 19, 2012 1:06 PM

    Well, I just watched it, and it’s pretty much a hack job as you would expect. I mean, when documented liar and smear tactician John Barr is the lead guy on the story, what should you expect? They even made sure to include a full blown obvious lie in the story when they said that “Payton has accepted his punishment, unlike the players who are fighting…”. Let’s just not mention that Payton did appeal his suspension (for what good it did). And, of course, everything related to the bounty scandal was all what Payton and the Saints DID do, no thing at all to suggest that the NFL’s version of events makes swiss cheese look solid by comparison.

    One of the most amazing and ridiculous items was Barr talking about getting people to talk to him. Most wouldn’t, and he assured us all that they would not talk because of fear of reprisals from Payton – no mention whatsoever about him being a lying sleazy hack artist that makes false accusations so he is a POS that no self-respecting individual would have anything to do with.

    I was about to actually give ESPiN a little credit, as they did bring up the wiretapping story and noted that the State Police found no evidence whatsoever. But then, true to form, they were quick to point out that the FBI is the “lead” investigation unit and they have had no comment so far. The, to drive the “A-hole meter” into the red zone, they stated that they “stand by their story”.

  17. gvicknair says: Aug 19, 2012 1:20 PM

    Irresponsible journalism at it’s finest!!!!

  18. EJ says: Aug 19, 2012 1:46 PM

    “Even if you was in the front office, he wanted you to have swag.”

    He should of wanted you to learn proper English.

  19. loudog777 says: Aug 19, 2012 3:31 PM

    Drugs, bounties, illegal surveillance, no the Saints are saints.

  20. jimmywalker78 says: Aug 19, 2012 5:26 PM

    Have you ever seen the movie “Shattered Glass”? John Barr is very comparable to Stephen Glass. Big headline story, no truth!

  21. dboy10 says: Aug 20, 2012 1:32 AM

    As someone from Louisiana, I can tell you that the only time Payton is a jerk is when the person deserves it. He doesnt play the game & suck up to the NFL & the media so that rubs them wrong. With the fans, players, & friends he is kind & treats everyone with respect. Yes, hes intense & has an edge but I think u have to to be a good coach.

  22. musicman495 says: Aug 20, 2012 12:43 PM

    I love the mention at the end that OTL “stands by their story” about the eavesdropping charges despite findings of no evidence by LA State Police.

    What will be their reaction if both FBI and Louis Freeh also say there is nothing to the charge? Will they still say, “We stand behind our story”?

    I thought Bob Ley was better than this. I guess I was wrong.

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