Once, fictitiously, the suggestion was there were eight million stories in the naked city. Realistically these days, there probably are at least a couple million in New Orleans.
Saints Coach Sean Payton wants to eliminate 170 of them.
As the franchise attempts to limit the possibility of players, coaches and other select members of the organization from contracting the coronavirus, the Saints will utilize four floors at a hotel in downtown New Orleans in the lead-up to the regular season, where those personnel can best be in a situation to limit contact.
"It was really just looking at the percentages," Payton said Wednesday, during a teleconference. "If there's 80 players, and then another 90, 95 people – coaching, training, equipment – total number of people in your first or second tier, let's call it 170, basically every day, those 170 go home and then come back the next day. So you have 170 stories each day.
"So you might be, like we were to start, pretty much clean (COVID-19 tests) by our players and yet every day is a new day. And then you take that and you (multiply) it by seven (days per week), and then you take that and you (multiply) it by four weeks in a month, and then do the season. It's really about trying to reduce the possible exposures.
"Not eliminate, because like I said, it's not mandatory and certainly people that are staying at the hotel at some point might have a chance to see their family, their kids and all of that. But you're just trying to reduce those numbers, and I think that can just help your team.
"And I used this example with the players: I said, 'What do you think is going to happen to the teams that make the postseason this year?' I would tell you, I think there'll be less positive tests during the postseason around the league because teams will, at some point, say, 'You know what? This is too important at this time of the year.' And so, it would be hard-pressed for me to see anyone testing positive before the (conference) championship weekend or the Super Bowl weekend. They'll begin to quarantine themselves or find a way to be smart about that. So it's just trying to think outside the box."
Payton said he and Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis came up with the idea of reserving space at the hotel. At present, New Orleans has not reported any positive test results.
"It was me and Mickey talking about how can we take the protocol given to us by the league, and then further improve on it," he said. "Mickey and I have been talking about it and really looking at ways to be a little bit better than just the norm. Because I think if you just go along with the standard 'here it is,' then you're going to have what you've had the last few weeks. And then there's a randomness to, just because you're clean as a team heading into your second week, 11 guys can be (positive) the next week or the next week. There's too much at stake, especially for the players.
"Each day, there are multipliers there. Do the math. So we're certainly trying to be smart and limit our outside contact. But when you're not operating in a clean bubble, then you're going to have positive tests. I don't care – all the tracing and all the social distancing and all the beepers you wear, or everything that we have in place in the building, you're playing tackle football, you're lockering next to each other.
"So you just have to understand, there's going to be a certain amount of positive tests. I think we're fooling ourselves if we think that's not the case. This plan, there's a ton of things that are still at large relative to what to expect. And so, how do we improve on that? How do we make the numbers kind of work in our favor."
Payton said players have been receptive to the idea of being in the hotel.
"I think we'll have a good majority of that group of 170," he said. "And I'm sure there'll be a handful of people that won't be, and that's fine. But we've already improved our chances. If we can take that 170 (possibilities) down to 25, then we've certainly helped ourselves."
As for this week's work, it has consisted of weights, conditioning and walkthroughs so far.
"We're in the early parts of it. We're basically lifting and running, we're in meetings, and then in the afternoon we're having a walkthrough, the installations," Payton said. "Guys are moving around well, they're doing a lot of running.
"It's a little different than just putting them flat-out through that conditioning test and then kind of coming back with an idea. We're trying to build up, be smart and yet, I think overall the logistics of work, we're handling that well. We'll continue to do that here for the better part of this week into next week and then transition into more of a conventional practice."
Next week the team will shift to more of a practice setting.