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Payton’s suspension applies broadly, but good luck enforcing it


So with Saints coach Sean Payton’s suspension commencing on April 16, what exactly will he be allowed, and not allowed, to do?

As one source with knowledge of the situation explained it to PFT, it’s a broad suspension, prohibiting all coaching of the team and its players, whether in the team’s facility, at Payton’s home, or anywhere else.

Payton can’t be involved in any decisions relating to the team. And he can’t engage in any football or operations communications with members of the organization via phone or electronic device, including secret social media accounts.

The real question is the extent to which the NFL will go to enforce the terms of the suspension. Much of the process will have to proceed on the honor system, given the various ways that people can exchange information and messages via the Internet and engage in real-time conversations via second cell phones. Unless the NFL plans to use 24-hour surveillance, there’s no way of knowing whether Payton is secretly talking to quarterback Drew Brees, whether Payton is receiving copies of game film tucked inside pizza boxes, or whether he’s answering questions from offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. by direct message on a pair of dummy Twitter accounts.

If sufficiently discreet, the Saints and Payton can do whatever they want, especially since it appears that personal, non-football communications will be permitted (but, as we understand it, there will be only limited and narrow communications permitted). Since discreet is something the Saints most definitely weren’t while maintaining a bounty system, chances are that if the league senses that something is going on and the league starts sniffing around, the league will find enough evidence to prove a violation.

The best way to ensure that there will be no violations will be to explain to the Saints and Payton and any non-players who may be tempted to interact with Payton that the punishments will be swift and extreme. Though it may be harder for the league to take such a stance regarding Saints players given the CBA, the threat of a longer suspension of Payton should be enough to get him to comply, if the NFL makes it crystal clear to Payton that his future career is hinging on his ability to truly disconnect from the organization for a full season.