One of Sean Payton’s stipulations of his year-long suspension is that he could not have any communication with the Saints. Many questioned how the NFL could monitor such a thing, but most believed that Payton wouldn’t risk a further suspension from Roger Goodell for breaking the no-communication rule.
But according to a New York Times report, several Giants players believe that Payton is risking a further suspension by communicating with the Saints. In fact, there’s not a doubt in Giants punter Steve Weatherford’s mind that Payton has and is finding ways to communicate with the team.
“Of course he will get his message to them somehow.”
Weatherford added: “I’m not saying anything about Sean Payton as a person or anything, but I think any coach would do that. It’s not like he’s just going to sit at home and watch the games and not have any thoughts. His message will be heard.”
So just how could Payton go about communicating with the Saints? Rick Nelson, a counterterrorism and intelligence expert for the Center for Strategic and International Studies gives a myriad of options.
“From a technical perspective, there’s really very little the N.F.L. can do” to keep Payton from being in touch with his coaches or players if he wants to make contact.
Nelson ran down a long list of potential options for discreet communication, including dummy Twitter accounts, disposable cellphones and encrypted e-mails. Nelson said there are programs that can make it seem that an e-mail user has a different address each time.
In terms of trying to monitor Payton’s activities, Nelson added, the N.F.L.’s options are limited. The league is restricted by basic privacy laws — meaning, for example, it cannot be like the Central Intelligence Agency and tap Payton’s phones — though it could use private investigators to follow Payton or watch him from public areas.
“That’s how a lot of insurance fraud is detected,” Nelson said. “Someone claims they’re disabled and the investigator then sees them outside on a ladder painting their house.”
Seems like a lot of work just to help your team to a current record of 5-7.