Sean Payton dislikes playoff all-star officiating crews

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Don't count New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton as a fan of all-star officiating crews for the postseason.

Payton's team was victimized by a blatant missed call, which even the league admitted should have drawn a penalty, that contributed to a 26-23 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game.

And the Saints head coach told NFL Network's Steve Wyche over the weekend at the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix that matchups need to be better officiated, especially if the top officials in the league are on the field.

"We can't have an all-star crew and sit there and stare at a play like that," Payton said. "That honestly is called correctly -- not only in high school Friday night -- that call is made correctly in youth football. This is supposedly our best and our best wasn't good enough."

Payton, a member of the league's competition committee, then expounded on why he doesn't favor the all-star format for the playoffs.

"The first time I meet you and we've never met before and we're going to golf together, we're probably, both of us, are going to be, I would say, very cordial and it's human nature to get along with each other," Payton told Wyche. "But if you and I play every Friday, then it would be very common eventually, as I get to know you to talk a little smack, maybe, or certainly feel comfortable to act the way I normally would act.

"I think when you take those officials -- and those crews are together and together and together and together -- and all of a sudden the postseason comes and we split them up into an all-star crew in that play, if you look closely, you'll watch a young official acquiesce to the veteran official and not want to overstep his bounds."

Human nature aside, the Saints' head coach raises a legitimate concern if younger officials are deferring to their older counterparts, especially when considering the primary goal should surround getting the call right regardless of experience level.

Payton ultimately wants to see improvement in officiating and more full-time opportunities for members of the striped community.

"Our best at playing and our best at coaching are spending 20 hours, 18 hours a day," he said. "Our best at officiating, it's their second job. You know, it's the only sport. That has to change like that because it's too hard. There's too much at stake for someone who's a teacher at a school, who's a florist, an attorney. That's backward thinking."

The NFL employed 24 full-time officials in 2018, an increase from 21 the previous season.

Of the seven officials on the field in the NFC Championship Game, only two were on a full-time status: line judge Rusty Barnes and field judge Tom Hill. The two officials closest to the controversial play were down judge Patrick Turner and side judge Gary Cavaletto.

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