Earlier today, we put together a quick take on the stuff contained in the Outside The Lines profile of Saints coach Sean Payton. Now, it’s time to mention a couple of things that were omitted.
During a two-way with host Bob Ley, ESPN’s John Barr shared the following anecdote.
“There’s one instance where a gentleman by the name of Larry Holder who used to work for CBS online, he was recently named the beat writer for the Saints for the Times-Picayune,” Barr said. “Payton has a pet nickname for him — ‘N.F.L.’ — with the middle ‘F’ standing for a commonly-used expletive that starts with the letter ‘F’. I’ll let you use your own imagination on that. But the larger point here is that Mr. Holder has done a number of stories that have rubbed Payton the wrong way, and that he was branded a dissenter. Someone who’s negative. This is a guy who’s going to cover the team daily for the main newspaper in town, and he’s already sort of got that label on him.”
The only flaw in that analysis? Barr never interviewed nor tried to contact Holder. That’s what Holder told PFT when we (wait for it) contact him.
“He did not try to interview me,” Holder told PFT regarding Barr.
If the OTL story was supposed to be about the extent to which Payton intimidates people and if Holder was going to be presented by Barr as someone who was intimidated, why wouldn’t Barr ask Holder if he is or was or would be intimidated?
If Barr had interviewed Holder, Holder may have told him what Holder declared on Twitter after the story aired: “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.”
Payton also is on very good terms with his mentor, Bill Parcells. And Parcells is on very good terms with ESPN, given that he works for ESPN. And many of the things said about Payton in the profile could have been said about Parcells.
But Parcells not only wasn’t interviewed for the ESPN profile of his protégé, Parcells also wasn’t even mentioned.
Maybe Holder and Parcells weren’t interviewed because they would have supplied information that would have cut sharply against the preordained narrative that Payton’s bullying reaches broadly and falls beyond the scope of the things other notorious coaching bullies (like Parcells) have said and done.
Regardless, to the extent Barr’s goal was to present a balanced and comprehensive profile, the omission of Holder and Parcells from the interview list prevents it from being either.