New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton may be suspended from the NFL for all of the 2012 season, but that won't keep him off the sidelines during game day. At least not a holographic likeness of him.
Thanks to technology made famous at this year's Coachella festival, where a deceased Tupac Shakur surprised the audience with a performance 15 years after his death, the Saints will be able to maintain the presence of their Super Bowl winning coach during games next season, without him even being in the building.
While many fans will immediately question whether or not this is a violation of Payton's suspension, Saints spokesperson Greg Bensel is quick to point out that it's well within the rules. Or, at least not against any rules.
"We've already discussed this with the commissioner and he's given us his stamp of approval."
Approval might be a generous term, however, because even though Roger Goodell is allowing the Saints to use a Payton hologram, he's none too pleased about the idea.
"We're in uncharted territory here. Obviously, league rules don't specifically state anything about holograms, or any other likeness for that matter. And since it wouldn't really be Sean out there, I feel I've got to allow it. Even though it's against my better judgement and I hate the [edited] Saints."
The Payton hologram will be created by AV Concepts, the same company responsible for the much talked about Tupac performance at Coachella last month. How does it work? The system employs an angled piece of glass placed on the field to reflect a projector image onto a screen that looks invisible to the fans. The hologram won't be able to speak or react to anything in real time specifically, but will have talking capabilities consisting of pre-populated Payton soundbites taken from previous film and audio recordings.
So why are the Saints going to such great lengths just to have a fake Sean Payton with them during games? General Manager Mickey Loomis explains.
"It's really just about trying to maintain a sense of normalcy, some consistency. I think having the players be able to look over and still see Sean there will go a long way."
Expect to see the Sean Payton hologram make its debut during the Saints pre-season games, where testers will work out the kinks, just like the players on the field.