Exiled coach Sean Payton would face severe punishment if he were caught communicating with his New Orleans Saints players. There's no evidence of that during Payton's season-long suspension, but "several players" from the New York Giants -- who face the Saints on Sunday -- told The New York Times they question how complete silence is possible.
Harrison: Week 14 Power Rankings
Entering the final quarter of the regular season, there's still plenty of movement in Elliot Harrison's NFL pecking order. More ...
"Of course he will get his message to them somehow," punter Steve Weatherford said. "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."
Call it a heavy dose of speculation. There's nothing to suggest Payton has interfered with the boundaries of his punishment, and it would be a dangerous lever to pull. Payton's contract extension with the Saints was voided. He's essentially a free-agent coach until New Orleans, or another suitor, locks him down long-term. Why toy with his future to whisper secrets about the Giants' defense?
Saints interim coach Joe Vitt has talked about the difficulty of not being able to talk with Payton this season, and the NFL appears serious about the rules they set down. A league spokesman declined to detail for The Times how the NFL has tracked Payton's movements but stated the coach "is expected to comply with the conditions of the suspension."
Payton, from all we know, has done just that.
UPDATE: Weatherford later clarified his comments via Twitter: