NEW ORLEANS -- Now that Rob Ryan and the New Orleans Saints have parted ways, this inquiring mind wants to know: When did quarterback Drew Brees become a coach and play caller?
I must have missed that transaction when it came across the NFL wire.
Truth be told, I've always thought of ol' No. 9 as a player/coach but had no idea that his annual $20 million salary enabled him to publicly circumvent the authority of head coach Sean Payton.
I'm referring to a curious moment during the fourth quarter of last Sunday's 47-14 meltdown to the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., when Brees decided to take matters into his own hands with his team trailing by 30 points.
Facing an obvious punting situation on fourth-and-4 from his 22-yard line with 13:28remaining, Brees incredulously waved off Payton and the team's punting unit and remained on the field with the offense.
In other words, Brees acted without Payton's blessing.
With mouth agape and almost looking childlike standing on the sideline, Payton watched helplessly as the self-appointed player/coach called for the ball. The play resulted in an incomplete pass targeted over the middle for running back Mark Ingram, turning the ball over on downs to the Redskins.
Television cameras zeroed in on Payton as Brees came to the sideline. I wasn't sure what to expect. Fisticuffs? Wrestlemania? Head butt? Facial spit? Helmet toss/clipboard heave? Heated words? Sideline ejection? Bear hugs? Write 100 times on the IPad "I will not defy my coach.''
At the very least I expected an animated Payton/Ryan-like, in-your-face exchange.
And what we got was a scene suitable for babes. No histrionics. No visible neck veins or red-faced rant from either party. No players/coaches intervention. Not even a disinterested hand dismissal by Payton.
Maybe, Payton questioned Brees' play selection. I would have. It lacked creativity. I'm not even sure Ingram would have gotten a first down if he had caught the poorly thrown pass.
Afterward, Brees, the consummate warrior, acknowledged the error of his ways. His actions certainly did not reflect well of him or Payton. More so for Payton because for that split moment it appeared he'd lost control of his team, as if the inmates were running the asylum.
And that's never a good look for a coach.
Though the ill-advised decision mattered little in the grand scheme, Brees, too, ended up with egg on his face. A disclaimer should have come across the bottom of TV sets advising kids not to try this on the playground.
Need Brees be reminded, coaches coach and players play and they shall be paid accordingly.
Brian Allee-Walsh, a long-time Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.