METAIRIE, La. — When Jon Stinchcomb’s plane lands in New Orleans tonight, he’s hoping to not have to get right back on a jet to fly back to Atlanta.
The way the former Saints right tackle sees it, he’s coming in town early enough for the team to change its mind in having him be the analyst for the franchise’s preseason games.
“I’m sure we’ll do a couple of dry run-throughs and maybe watch some tape in case they need to pull the rip cord and find an emergency backup,” Stinchcomb said earlier this week. “They’ll have a good 36 hours to do that.”
Chances are unlikely, however, that the Saints will find the self-deprecating Stinchcomb any less up to the task than they did when handing him the starting right tackle position in 2006, Sean Payton’s first season in town.
Just listen to those who made the decision to bring him into the broadcast booth talk about him and you’ll realize the respect he garnered in his time with the Saints.
“I think he has a good handle on this team,” Payton said. “He’s a smart guy. I think he’s well-spoken and a guy that, being from the University of Georgia and his whole career being with the Saints, I think he’ll add a key element for us.”
“He has great access to Sean, all of our players, knows our system, he’s a smart guy, loquacious, good speaker,” said Greg Bensel, the team’s Senior Vice-President of Communications. “I said, ‘Come on man. Let’s do it.’ Took a little encouraging but he’s excited.”
In his time in New Orleans, Stinchcomb earned the respect of his teammates by becoming one of the hardest working players in the locker room.
It also didn’t hurt his reputation with them that he played through pain. He started 80 consecutive games, including much of the 2010 season with a torn left quad.
He was cut in the 2011 preseason and retired, eventually moving to Atlanta where he’s back close to his family. That includes his brother Matt, who works with ESPN covering college football.
Asked if his older brother, who also played in the NFL, has given him any tips, Jon said absolutely not.
“I give him so much grief for being a member of the mainstream media that he promptly called me once he found out I was doing some color for preseason and returned the favor with some of the grief,” the younger brother said. “That was expected. It was only a matter of time until he found out.”
So, what will be different for Stinchcomb? Well, other than being in the booth?
He gets to talk about teammates and friends, including Zach Strief, who took over at right tackle when Stinchcomb was cut.
“He has all the power in that situation,” Strief said. “I have called him. I have talked to him numerous times and told him to please be gentle. Hopefully it’s something inside that nobody else gets but me when I go back and I watch it.”
While Stinchcomb doesn’t intend on making a career out of TV, Strief believes he’ll be perfect for it.
“He’s quick-witted,” the current Saint said. “He’s a smart guy. He’s eloquent. I hate saying that. But he’s quick-witted. He would be perfect in that situation but he’s too happy raising his kids to leave every weekend.”
Regardless of whether there will be any inside jokes, Stinchcomb promises one thing about how he’ll go about analyzing the Saints – he’ll be prepared, a hallmark of his career in New Orleans.
“I’ve tried to do my due diligence as to knowing the players and some of the main things going on with the Saints,” Stinchcomb said. “I think just being able to convey matters that people want to hear is my main challenge. I’m not a seasoned veteran in front of the camera. I’m just a football player who hopefully can put a couple of sentences together and hopefully that translates into some good TV for those listening.”