A photo of New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton in the Sept. 16 issue of Sports Illustrated made me chuckle. He was doing that thing NFL coaches do on the sideline, talking into his headset while using the play chart to shield his mouth from the view of prying eyes.
Lip readers, you know.
Of course, who's to say how secure a defense system he's using?
You may recall her lip reading wasn't foolproof, though. She mistook "sweep together" for "sleep together," and unintentional hilarity ensued.
But back to Sean Payton and other football coaches. If you step away from your NFL Sunday Ticket just a tad, you have to be at least a little bit amused by the espionage and counterespionage. And yet, that wasn't enough for me.
I found myself imagining Payton out at dinner, ordering a meal, but covering his mouth with the menu, just in case. Heck, Tony Soprano once ate at the same restaurant as Eric Mangini, when the latter was coach of the New York Jets. Who knows what T, an enthusiastic gambler who loved him some NFL action, may have picked up from reading Mangini's lips during dinner.
Then I imagined Payton hiding his mouth in other contexts: at karaoke; posing for his driver's license photo; reading from a book as a bedtime story (no strategic reason, but you'd think by now it's just habit to cover up); maybe talking to his wife on his headset while walking down store aisles with the shopping list covering his lips, for example.
OK, I know that's silly.
Payton does the shopping without a list. He's that good.
Let's see ... milk? Check. Detergent? Check. Paper towels? Check. Oops, the wife said to get Brawny. No more Bounty. Check.
Carl Dubois, a former American Press reporter and assistant sports editor, is a journalist and editor now living and working near Portland, Ore.