OTL profile on Payton omitted two key interviews


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.

16 responses to “OTL profile on Payton omitted two key interviews

  1. I think we all know plenty of people who think we have a good relationship, but we really don’t like them.

  2. Holder covers Payton and thus has an incentive not to tick him off anymore than he has. He needs access. A White House correspondent isn’t going to admit that the he and the President hate each other.

    You really think Parcells was going to speak in open and revealing terms about his so-called protege?

    These are two people with reasons to NOT speak their mind and be frank and truthful. Mike, I get the ESPN bashing every once an again, but this is obnoxious.

    Someone at NBC needs to dump you in the cold tub.

  3. Who watches ESPN? It’s a gossip company, no real news, make soemthing up and see if it sticks.

  4. Thank you for this analysis of the OTL piece. I watched it and quickly came to the conclusion that it was more editorial than information based. The piece also seemed to have a very negative point of view. As long as ESPN continues with this type of so called journalism it will be hard to take the network seriously.

    Unfortunately, that means that when ESPN actually does report the news it will be difficult for the average viewer to determine if it is in fact news or editorial. ESPN is the FOXNEWS of sports reporting.

  5. The OTL piece also totally forgot to mention the fact that, you know, their entire wire-tapping-gate story (by the same guy) turned out to be completely false.

  6. It’s a shame that ESPN has no actual competition. ESPN has ruined sports much the same way MTV has ruined music.
    And ESPN is in no way the Fox News Channel of sports reporting. FNC is a conservative news outlet, while ESPN could not be more liberal. The liberal media are killing this country, even when it comes to sports reporting.
    Finally, I find it interesting that two of pro football’s biggest scandals have involved two individuals from the Parcell coaching tree: Bill Billichick and Sean Payton.
    Such a coincidence.

  7. The fact that two people weren’t interviewed says nothing about the objectivity of the piece… Was something said on OTL that is demonstrably false? If not, you can’t say the piece lacks all credibility. Whether Holder admitted to feeling intimidated or not is immaterial. What is material is that Payton tried to undermine him because of the ongoing feeling of entitlement he has with that club and in that city.

  8. Bonilla just missed clifford’s point. ESPN is like FNC in that they are both slanted biased self promotors who are more likely to conduct a public hanging than report actual and truthful news – unless of course they like you. Then you can do no wrong.

  9. why is this suprising? the majority of reporting in this country on any subject is skewed to meet the agenda of the network/newspaper…freedom of the press is dead without true investigative reporting.

  10. This is not John Barr’s fault. This is ESPN’s fault. He is just their errand boy.

    What ESPN does defines what is wrong with “journalism” today. They are afraid to cross a league that they have a contract with. One bad turn, Mort and Schefter lose their access. Too many bad turns, they lose Monday Night Football next time the TV deal rolls around. So basically, if Goodell goes to them and says “send Barr down there and dig up some dirt on the team, because it would help my bounty investigation because the public will hate them and just assume they’re guilty.” how do you think they’re obligated to respond?

  11. I only registered on PFT because I know Larry Holder personally. And trust me, Larry and coach Payton does get along fine and there are no issues. They have even hung out a few times. Payton is a very intense guy and is not big a fan of the media in general (can you really blame him).

    Please don’t believe everything that Entertainment(SPN) says.

  12. Barr continues to spread falsehoods about the Saints. First, the wiretapping story, and now the OTL piece that contains several inaccuracies and outright falsehoods.

    ESPN is the NFL’s mouthpiece, and right now, the NFL needs the Saints to look bad. ESPN is letting Barr run these pieces, so at least we know who the designated hitman is. However, no amount of public flogging is going to change that judge’s mind.

    Last, Foxnews is no more slanted or untruthful than MSNBC. You go into both those networks knowing you’re getting a slanted point of view. Fox dominates the ratings because they have the sense to put on a bunch of hot blonds or comically bizarre hosts (Geraldo, Shep Smith). On MSNBC, you’ve just got a bunch of angry blowhards (Maddow) or condescending people (Matthews). Foxnews, mainly, only has one real blowhard, and that’s O’reilly. All else equal, the hot blondes win out.

  13. Not much to add that most of you haven’t already said. It’s sad because ESPN is the main news source for a lot of people and while fan bias skews opinions against opposing teams anyways…most people I know general try to be reasonable within that bias. John Barr and ESPN have been so skewed that it borderlines fanatical bias for the NFL, and those opinions get passed along to fans of opposing teams against the saints. This OTL is a perfect example of exactly that. Hate the saints, dislike sean payton, lambast drew brees…that I wouldn’t care about as a saints fan if it were all at least based on facts…which is exactly what ESPN seems to be dead set against representing

  14. Dear Mike thank-you so much for speaking the Truth about the New Orleans Saints, and while the dishonest reporters that are too numerous to list, along with goodell and his minions will never be welcomed again in The City of New Orleans, Southeast Louisiana & The Gulf Coast Region again, you will go down as a HERO and will never have to pay for another meal in New Orleans. I want to go on the record to nominate you as The Grand Marshall of The Endymion Parade, and while The Grand Marshall of Endymion has always been a celebrity I believe by the way you’ve had the SAINTS’s and The SAINTS FAN’s backs you qualify as a celebrity in the City of New Orleans. Once again thank-you Mike for speaking the TRUTH!!!
    WHO DAT – FREE SEAN PEYTON – FREE JV#51 – fire goodell
    Barry S.
    Powder Springs, Ga.

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