League should listen to Payton's gripes

October, 29, 2008
10/29/08
1:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Give New Orleans coach Sean Payton some credit for finally saying what he and most of the organization made obvious last week. The last place Payton and most people associated with the Saints wanted to be was London.

That was pretty obvious as the team took a bunker mentality through much of the week. The Saints stayed at what was essentially a castle an hour north of London, severely limited media access and just went about business. You can't question the result because the Saints got a win, although the fact the Chargers are flat-out bad played a big role.

In some ways, you have to wonder if the Saints made things more difficult than they needed to. They were grumpy all last week and, although they went through the motions they had to, they didn't exactly embrace a role as ambassadors of American football. That was a bit of a contradiction because Saints executive vice president Rita Benson LeBlanc, the daughter of owner Tom Benson, is on the league's international committee and she played an enthusiastic role in trying to expand the game's appeal.

That's something the NFL is gung-ho about and commissioner Roger Goodell said there's a possibility of two international games next season. There also has been talk about having each team play one international game a year at some point. That's probably going to happen because the game was an economic success.

But, before the league goes too far down the international road, it might want to listen seriously to Payton's gripes. He had some very valid points about the logistical difficulty of playing overseas and he's the guy who came home with a win.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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