My Opinions on the Saints

Mar 26, 2012 by

Let me first say that this is nowhere as eloquent as I would have liked it to be. Nor is it as in-depth as that would take years. I’ll link the relevant pages and you can Google the keywords for everything else, but in a nutshell, here are my thoughts.

Gregg Williams:
Gregg Williams is the guy that turned the innocuous player performance pools into a mind-blowingly complex Ponzi scheme which –through peer pressure– forced players to re-invest their tiny thousand dollar payouts back into the pool creating huge paydays by years’ end. That’s why you hear about a $50,000 pool. It wasn’t just make the play, get the envelope, but make the play, re-invest the envelope and get a bigger envelope next time. That’s a far cry from the simple, “Here’s $500 for that interception,” that the rest of the league does. This borders on racketeering. Oh, and Williams added the parts about injuring the other team. Swell guy.

Williams is now temporarily out of the NFL until his other systems have been investigated, at which time he’ll probably be done for good. Fine by me. The NFL informed the Saints that the bounty jig was up just days before our playoff game with the Lions and Williams was likely given his walking papers the following week before the San Fran game. What else could explain our anemic defense versus the Forty-Niners? Gregg Williams went out crying like a bitch and torpedoed our D out of spite. Don’t think so? Watch that game again and explain why we were playing five yards off the receivers. Explain why obvious passing plays were defended by running schemes and vice-versa. Shit on him.

Sean Payton:
Now that the Saints Nation has enriched the lives of a few t-shirt vendors by wearing their hearts on their chests, can we look at this like we still have brains? Sean Payton is getting pretty much what he deserves, but not just for the bounty scandal which I refuse to believe he had no clue about. He’s not that stupid.

As head coach, it’s Payton’s job to ensure shit like this doesn’t happen. I don’t give a flying crap what you do in your private life as long as it doesn’t affect me. You want to throw Vicodin parties and bang the girl next door? Fine by me, but come Monday morning there better be another notch in the win column or at least a very good reason for a loss. Unfortunately Sean Payton has shown a serial lack of respect for the Saints organization, the City of New Orleans and Saints fans across the globe. While I still think he’s one of the best offensive minds in football, I no longer trust him, his judgement or his leadership.

First there was the Vicodin scandal which is still in the courts, then three extra-marital rumours which culminated in a quick move back to Dallas for his family, (you didn’t seriously think it was because of the Chinese drywall, did you?), then his association with once convicted, (and soon to be convicted again,) felon Mike Ornstein, (also the same douchebag that caused Reggie Bush to lose his Heisman Trophy,) and now the bounty scandal. It’s just too much. Either Payton is the most gullible dumbass in history and had no clue what was going on in his organization or he’s the biggest prick in the room, laughing at the rest of the world while flaunting the rules. Whomever he is, he has lost my respect and trust, and he should lose his job. A year just isn’t enough for what he’s done to our team, our city and our fanbase. Shit on him too.

Mickey Loomis:
Probably more culpable than Sean Payton in this whole sordid mess is Mickey Loomis who is on record as being instructed by the NFL to end the bounty program in 2010 and then completely ignoring the situation. Loomis repeatedly lied to the NFL, owner Tom Benson and through the media, to Saints fans. And it’s not the first time. According to the lawsuit filed by former Saints Security Director and respected former FBI agent Geoff Santini, Loomis was the mastermind behind the Vicodin coverup.

Loomis gets far too much credit for being a draft genius. Remember that Loomis came to us in 2002 during the Haslett era and brought us such great names as Donte Stallworth, Rodney Leisle, Melvin Williams and lately, Olin Kreutz. It wasn’t until Payton came to town that the Saints began finding mid- to late-round gems like Marques Colston, Thomas Morstead and Carl Nicks, to name a few. In fact, under Haslett and Loomis’ direction the Saints went from 10-6 to 3-13 with four 50/50 years in between, more often than not attributed to the directionless, party-all-the-time atmosphere allowed by the two and punctuated by a number of love trinagles which resulted in anything but teamwork.

Loomis is also one of the reasons that Drew Brees is still unsigned. When the franchise tag deadline was looming, Loomis was fully aware that the hammer was about to fall hard on the Saints and he should have simply paid Drew’s asking price. The offer was even made, but the sticking point was that most of the money would come at the end of five years and Drew wanted it to come near the beginning. Bite the bullet Mick, and pay the man. Had this been done, it would have saved Saints Nation a lot of frustration and grief, but no, Mickey fucked everything up. Again. Shit on him. Again. Hand him his hat and coat and wish him well in his next coverup.

Joe Vitt:
Who? Oh, yeah, the guy who filled in for Sean Payton in the second half of the Tampa Bay game after the broken leg incident. Yeah, we lost that game and Pete Carmichael Jr got the reins. Suddenly Roger Goodell has new information that Joe Vitt knew what was going on and was in on the coverup. In fact, according to the NFL, Sean Payton instructed Vitt to spy on Williams and make sure that the bounty program was ended. Huh? But Payton said he had no knowledge of the program…

Oh, I get it. It’s the Vicodin thing again. Joe Vitt was the sneak-thief caught on camera breaking into the medicine cabinet to kype all those munchy, crunchy happy pills for him and Sean to chomp on in between games. Despite the 2010 Championship, liars, thieves and addicts have been steadily running this team into the ground with no regard to the consequences and the Saints Nation is crying rivers for them. Ridiculous. Shit on Vitt, too.

Tom Benson:
Relatively untouched by Goodell’s heavy hand, team owner Tom Benson is even being rewarded with the money he saves by not having to pay the bloated salaries of Payton, Loomis and Vitt. (In fact, there are more than a few notions out there that Benson should donate at least some of this money to sports injury foundations and it’s not a bad idea, but odds are he won’t even think of parting with his windfall.) There are two things saving Benson’s butt in this mess, the first being that he’s a “hands-off” owner who sits in his office writing checks whenever Mickey Loomis tells him to and not much else. Benson is not a day-to-day kind of guy. Second is his immediate acquiescence to Goodell’s request for access to team e-mails.

Remember the 18,000 documents and 50,000 pages of evidence? Well, kids, when the man comes in and seizes your files they take everything regardless of whether it has any bearing on the case. Every e-mail is read, stamped and entered into evidence, then only the relevant files are used in the trial. And have you ever printed out an e-mail? One paragraph usually prints on 2-3 pages including all the header and footer garbage. Essentially, the NFL has a handful of relevant information, but 50,000 pages sounds a lot more impressive as a headline, doesn’t it?

I can’t fault Benson too much for the bounty scandal, even though he knew what was going on, to a point. Benson put his trust in Loomis, who then took that trust and crapped all over it. Can you blame Benson for being gullible? For being lied to? Not really, though I’m surprised that people haven’t called for his head. I mean, after all, if you can’t control your employees, you need to be fired, right? That’s why they’re going to fire Obama for the actions of the Robert Bales, right? That’s why Tracie Washington wants Jim Letten’s resignation, right? But I digress…

Benson is the team ATM and nothing more. Perhaps if he paid more attention to his team we wouldn’t be in this position, but here we are. I mean, the NFL called the Packers to the carpet for bounties in 2007, and while not as huge a program as Williams ran, the Packers killed it dead in it’s tracks and suffered no consequences. That could have been our outcome had these weasels nutted up like men in 2010. And it all would have been swept under the carpet and forgotten along with the confetti from Superbowl XLIII.

The Players Involved:
Well, we don’t know who they are or whether they’re still with the team so anything here is mere speculation. So far Jonathan Vilma is the only player name linked to the bounty scandal and he’ll probably miss more than a few games. Enough games that the team signed MLB Curtis Lofton, whose style is similar in nature to Vilmas. All accounts point to some ridiculous, staggered suspension so as not to inflict undue hardship on the Saints or other teams that involved players may be currently with. Yeah, right. While it gives Saints fans hopes that we’ll have a defense this year, it also shows that in spite of all the posturing about player safety, the NFL really won’t take a hard line on rules infractions other than fines which most players barely notice missing from their salaries. We’ll see what happens.

By the way, how involved were Tracy Porter and Carl Nicks? Could there be eight game suspensions in their future? Might explain why they were allowed to shop around. Of course, we’ll be called all sorts of names if this turns out to be the case, but caveat emptor, my friends… ya pays ya money and takes ya chances! As for any player who bought into the bounty program, yeah, you guessed it… shit on them, too. They knew better and they’re just as guilty as the coaches in all this. A million dollars a year and you play a little harder for an extra pocketful of Benjamins? Take your beds to another brothel, ladies.

The Fines:
$500,000 for Benson is the league limit on fines. It’s in the NFL rules. He might have to downgrade to a cheaper Mercedes, but this is just a token fine. The coaches are losing huge salaries and Joe Vitt is getting an additional $100,000 hit, but none of this matters, though, as the only thing that will teach the rest of the league a lesson is game suspensions. If Goodell was actually concerned with safety instead of being concerned with looking concerned, he’d have instituted suspensions for on-field behavior when he started yanking games away from players for off-field behavior.

The Draft Picks:
We lose our first picks in 2013 and 2014, both second rounders. While we’ve been doing well in the draft since Sean Payton joined the team, these lost picks are not the end of life as we know it. While they diminish our overall strength short-term, we still have the option of trading up, plus we’ll have former back-ups waiting to step into starting roles, more on which later. Also, this will eventually free up some cap cash in the coming years that won’t be paid to high round picks meaning that in the next decade we could be sitting on top of a gold mine, unless we decide to fritter it away on extra Vicodin or something…

Roger Goodell:
Well, it’s not his fault, right? He didn’t know what was going on, right? Oh, wait, he did! And rather than follow up on what he knew to be a bad situation, he let it fester for two more years. Goodell is an over-rated, overpaid PR flack who is just as culpable as Loomis and Payton in the bounty scandal, but he gets to keep his job because he’s the King of Fake Safety in the NFL. It’s not about what you do, but about how you look doing it, right Roger? Yeah, shit on him, too. Good luck with your own defense, Roger!

The Snitch:
To those of you who are claiming that “snitch” is an appalling term to lay on the whistleblower because the truth needed to come out, you’re wrong. A whistleblower stands up and shouts when he sees wrongs which need righting, and sometimes he does this from the safety of anonymity. A snitch plays along, profiting, until he’s cut out of the loop, then reports the wrongs out of spite, most of the time under the cover of anonymity. According to the most prevalent rumours, the snitch is a former player who felt he was unjustly cut from the team. Maybe, maybe not.

I seriously doubt that Jeremy Shockey is the snitch. Seriously. Shockey is the kind of guy who walks up to you and punches you right in the face when he’s pissed. He’s not the behind-the-scenes kind of snake that stabs you in the back out of spite. I still have doubts about how loudly Darren Sharper was screaming for snitch blood when the story broke, and he also fits the rumoured profile, but what about Olin Kreutz? Yeah, he was on offense, but a clean-cut, corn-fed boy like that could easily “lose his passion for the game” and suddenly quit if he stumbled onto the details of the bounty program. And he didn’t have much invested in the team when he quit to keep silent. If it was Kreutz, though, we would in fact need to start using the term whistleblower instead of snitch.

Bill Parcells:
Sean Payton has approached his former mentor regarding a one year head coaching deal. Hoo-boy… this is gonna get stranger… I’ll get the bread, you bring the Tuna!

The 2012 Season:
If you think you’ve seen the Saints play hard before, brother, you ain’t seen nothing yet. There are about thirty back-ups on every team just waiting for a chance to shine and there has never been a bigger chance like this. Of course, that means that next year when all our suspended chickens come home to roost, the Saints will have twice the number of shining stars as other teams. Deciding who stays and who goes will be difficult, but I guarantee the trades will make up for our lost draft picks and the team will have the upper hand in contract negotiations, and hopefully Loomis won’t be around to fuck them up!

In an ideal world, Tom Benson would be smart enough to cut bait with the entire top tier of his organization. Yeah, we’d have some rocky ground to travel, but a clean break would truly distance Benson and the New Orleans Saints from all the muck that’s collected on our cleats during the Sean Payton era and if we happened to find success in the next few seasons there would be absolutely no doubt of its honesty. Unfortunately, Tom Benson has a perverse sense of loyalty to those who have shown a clear disregard for his interests. At least he has a year to think about it.

But mark my words: The Saints will survive this scandal and stand stronger as a team by the end of the season. I may be out on a very thin limb here, but I’m going to guarantee at least a playoff berth for the Saints this year and all it takes to get to the Superbowl is one playoff spot. I still want the Saints at Home in the Dome for the Big Dance –as I’m sure we all do– but I think a playoff spot in a clean, well scrutinized season is our best shot at regaining our respect from the NFL, the media and the fans.

Now, who’s with me?

-M Styborski