Sean Payton: Competition committee talks were great

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INDIANAPOLIS -- New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton spent the early part of the week at the NFL Scouting Combine with his other duties as a member of the league's competition committee.

Payton took a moment Friday after watching the running backs go through drills to address a small contingent of media members to review what happened before this year's draft class flocked to Indianapolis.

The Saints head coach said the committee spent the meetings covering a range of subjects, including player safety, stadium and officials reports, meetings with the general manager subcommittee and NFLPA and, of course, the possible expansion of replay.

Payton, whose Saints were the victim of a controversial no-call on an obvious pass interference, appeared encouraged by the competition committee discussions before formal discussions on proposals are brought to the annual league meeting in late March.

"Man, I thought the dialogue this year was great," Payton said. "Those were long days, obviously. We got in Sunday night, so Monday at 8 a.m. and I think when we go to the spring meetings, there will be more and more of this dialogue not just relative to replay, not just relative to officials, but player safety, things that we're going to change."

Payton also believed the discussion will lead to some modifications to current rules on replay, although he doesn't know exactly how much at this point.

"There'll be changes this year, there'll be things that we add, but right now it would be too early if you were to ask, 'Hey, do you see any major changes to replay?'" Payton said. "It's hard to tell right now. We're just discussing all of these things and there's still more discussion to go through."

Numerous coaches in the past week, including Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, have publicly backed the expansion of replay.

Payton said he believes a lot of people support change, but added there needs to be a clear methodology in place before implementing any forms of alteration to how the league utilizes replay.

"Here's the thing: I think by and large, there's a lot of people that support it," Payton said. "So, that all being said, all right, what kinds of steps then, meaning, there's always a checks and balances with any rule change and you want to make sure that you're not into the start of the season, like, holy cow, we weren't thinking of this.

"And so, I definitely would sense that a lot in our industry, most in our industry, would like to continue to look at how we can improve the in-game calls getting made correctly because it applies to every team."

Payton certainly has a point, as he experienced arguably one of the worst missed calls in NFL history.

But he pointed out his participation level during the early meetings came as a member of the competition committee, not solely as an interested party wanting immediate change.

"I was part of the process," Payton said. "It wasn't like me waiting for that topic to come up and it's really looking forward not just one year from now, but also looking forward five, six, seven, eight years from now as our game has gotten faster.

"Look, the fans are seeing everything now real time. The fans are getting access to great shots on the television screen. So, how do we improve those opportunities for the officials? We discussed an eighth official up in the box who will have access to kind of the same video a fan would have, but just as an official. We've discussed replay, we've discussed all of those topics. I think in the next month or so, we'll be further along."

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