Cowboys address mystery man on Saints sideline

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

In the aftermath of a Saints-Cowboys game during which the home team stymied one of the most potent offensive in football, suspicions have emerged in connection with images showing a person in Cowboys gear with a headset (and apparently a cell phone) on the New Orleans sideline. And, yes, the Saints are suspicious.

The Cowboys have explained the issue in this way: “It’s a member of the game day entertainment staff.  He stands next to the ‘green hat’ who is the network TV person who works with the officials to coordinate TV timeouts.  His job is to communicate to our internal video board people when a TV time out is coming and how much time is left in that timeout as they come out of a break.  He does not stand in the team bench area.  They stand just outside the bench area on that side of the field.”

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The image that was tweeted shows the person close to Saints coach Sean Payton, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the person was in the bench area. The Cowboys insist that the employee would never enter the bench area, toward the middle of the sideline.

Whether the Cowboys’ explanation satisfies the Saints’ suspicions remains to be seen. If the Cowboys were going to be engaged in any type of spy operation, it definitely would be unusual for the guy to be wearing a polo shirt bearing the Cowboys logo.

The NFL has not responded to a request for comment regarding the situation.

A similar incident occurred in 2015, when the Jets instigated a sideline interrogation of Kraft Sports employees during a game against the Patriots. Those employees were also responsible for in-stadium entertainment, and one was responsible for providing batteries to the referee’s wireless microphone.

The easiest way to avoid these situations would be to require the employees of a given team to do whatever they have to do from the sideline of the team they work for. That would completely eliminate any possible allegations of shenanigans.

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