Yes, Saints coach Sean Payton was allowed to attend Sunday night’s game between the Chargers and the Saints.
No, the Saints weren’t allowed to acknowledge it via their in-house camera system.
Jay Glazer of FOX noted during the game that the league prohibited the Saints from showing images of Payton on the video board.
Glazer referred to the item as coming from the “department of the absurd,” and tagged it with “give me a break.”
Though I usually agree with Glazer (and if I don’t he threatens to “choke me out”), I can understand why the NFL would have concern about showing images that could have turned the Superdome crowd into an angry anti-league mob — especially with the league descending on New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII.
Besides, I still think a suspension is a suspension and that if a guy is going to be suspended he should be suspended. Though I still have concerns about the magnitude of the punishments in light of the quality of the evidence and the widespread existence of natural football motivation to use clean legal hits to knock opposing players out of a given game, the concept of a suspension becomes grossly undermined when exceptions are made.
In other words, whether the Saints could have shown Payton on the video board shouldn’t have mattered, because if Payton is suspended he shouldn’t have been at the game, regardless of its historical significance or whether Drew Brees said “pretty please” and/or whether he sprinkled any natural or artificial sweeteners on top.
It sends a horribly mixed message for a league that all too often dabbles in bright lines and absolutes. And it perpetuates the impression that, despite the appearance of order and consistency and uniformity, the league ultimately is going to do whatever the league wants to do.