Sean Payton could have performed a victory dance after NFL owners voted to expand replay Tuesday night. He didn’t.
Or at least not in his post-vote interviews.
“I think it’s more about the football element [than a personal victory],” said Payton, a member of the Competition Committee. “Honestly, when you’re on this Committee, you really try to look more toward the history of the game. I just pulled up copies of what was the 6B, 6A, all these other [proposals] we’re not using to look at some day and be like, ah, these are the ones that didn’t pass. I think it’s more of that ‘owe it to the game’ that we have responsibility, and really, I mean that. This isn’t going to be perfect always, and we know that. The mere shape of the ball tells you it’s not going to bounce the same way. But these are fouls that the analysts are able to point and say, ‘Hey, they’re the most impactful fouls.’ I think we got it right.”
The Saints coach spoke up Monday when it appeared owners might do nothing to expand replay. He warned that if the league didn’t make a change to address the non-call in the NFC Championship Game “then ownership is saying they’re comfortable with what happened.”
After much back and forth — Payton said they went “around the Grand Canyon” in their discussions — coaches convinced owners to pass a one-year trial expanding reviewable plays to include offensive and defensive pass interference, called or not on the field.
“I think one of the challenges was the amount of proposals that we were discussing,” Payton said. “If we’re discussing five different items in the menu, it’s hard to get focused. This one, pretty much after the a.m. meeting, we went back in as a Committee and really started hashing through. We didn’t like with one of them what we did like with the other. Coaches met for a long time yesterday. I thought we had great discussion. Really, essentially after that meeting at lunch time, we felt this was going to be one. We didn’t want games ending with coaches throwing challenges on Hail Marys and all of that. We were respectful of how we watch a game today. We had the ability within the system [to fix it]. We know [coaches have] two challenges, and if you get them right, you have a third and you’re north of two minutes and you feel like there’s been a foul, you can challenge that. South of two minutes, the replay official takes on that responsibility. I think it fit with a system we know and a system the fans know. Obviously there are certain calls it doesn’t address, but at least we can begin to look at this as we move forward. I think everyone was excited that we arrived at a good answer.”