FOOTBALL IS BACK *Well maybe just kinda. But it's better then pretending to care about regular season baseball.
Truth be told, I am late in posting this because I left for vacation on Tuesday and the scheduled post didn't happen. Not the end of the world as there is always more that can be said. I scanned around the interwebs to see if anything of real substance has happened since I had originally written this and there wasn't much to be found. So the additions to this post will be mundane thoughts stemming from practice this week.
I'm not going to go into individual player analysis but I will mention a few names who've stood out to me and likely have stood out to you as well. First we'll look at a unit. One that has been underwhelming for a few years now. The defensive line. Sack/fumble for Will Smith. Akiem Hicks is a god damned monster. Tyrunn Walker. This guy was undrafted? Big Sed broke some ribs. Cam Jordan is getting up the field and looks pretty stout. Junior Galette is downright scary coming off the line and he can probably find a week's worth of snacks in that killer beard. McBride, Johnson, Miller? Meh. But it's necessary to have a little meh so you can have some HOLY SHIT DID YOU SEE THAT on the rest of the line.
These linebackers we have now are not the Dome Patrol Part Deux but they don't have to be. And don't kid yourself...there will never be another Dome Patrol. Chamberlain stood out as a guy who made a few plays against the Pats and maybe we'll bench the Shanle and roll with the other white guy. I'm not a Shanle hater but it is kind of funny that he has held down a starting job for as long as he has being as lackluster as he typically has been. Either way, I'm okay with it. Lofton has looked other-worldly. Something we just haven't seen since Vilma in 2009. Honestly, Lofton would be starting even if Vilma was healthy and not wearing a suit every day. We've all heard lots of talk about Vilma coming back and playing alongside Lofton on the weak side, but that's all it is: talk. Any of y'all ever seen Vilma play on the outside? Didn't think so. Me neither. Not saying he can't do it but let's stop pretending like it's a foregone conclusion that he would just seamlessly be plugged in on the outside. I wish Hawthorne wouldn't have gotten a boo boo on his hip because I wanted to see if he would've cleaned up the performance he had in Canton. He missed a few too many tackles for me but considering it was the first real tackling they'd done I suppose he gets a pass.
*As this is posting late, looks like Hawthorne will be back to show us what he can do tonight against Jacksonville
I like our DB's. All of them. I look forward to the Pro Bowl this year. Wanna know why? Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins will be there. Queue the "He sucks in pass coverage!!! He can't catch!!! He doesn't just look like an old man, he plays like one!1!" crowd. Chill out, people. It's okay. I promise. You don't have to hate our safeties to be a Saints fan. Marquis Johnson and Johnny Patrick have been holding it down pretty well in the absence of Robinson and Greer. Color me not concerned. Does Corey White play special teams? Has he picked off Drew in practice yet? He's going to have to start doing both if he wants to make this team.
I feel sorry for Chase Daniel. I really do. He has to play behind that patchwork offensive line with Courtney Roby as his #1 wide receiver and Michael Higgins as his starting tight end. And there are rumblings of cutting him loose? Come on. Let's be reasonable. People actually think that it's a good idea to trade a future pick to the Browns for Colt McCoy? That really is kind of embarrassing and I hope Chase never has to hear that shit. He might be a little chubby and hold on to the ball a little too long but both you and I would be the same way if we've been getting paid a couple mill a year to hold a clipboard and slap Drew Brees on the ass as he comes off the field after an impressive touchdown drive. Cut Chunky a break. He's doing the best he can with what he's got to work with on the field. I doubt that even Drew Brees would look like Drew Brees playing with the second team. You'll only be seeing these guys on the field when we're kicking the ball. Which reminds me...
Morstead's still a pimp. The job is still Hartley's.
THE INJUNCTION HEARING
If you're the kind of person who's reading this blog in the first place, you are also the kind of person who was following the latest court hearing in Jonathan Vilma v. the Evil Empire. When I was following it in real time via twitter, my hopes were hanging on every tweet that was coming out. In my own personal tally of scoring the tweets the numbers came out to be Jonathan Vilma: 1,326. NFL: 4 Yes. That was my initial assessment. Looking at the aftermath of the hearing through articles read and lawyers questioned, I still think things stack up favorable in the corner of JV51. What I came away from the hearing with is that if the August 30 arbitration panel finds that this will be sent back to Goodell, then the judge is going to insert her authority and grant the injunction and move forward to the Discovery phase of the defamation suit.
The question that was being asked most leading up to the injunction hearing regarding the alleged offer of reduced suspensions was whether or not Vilma was in this to get back on the field this year or to clear his name. When the settlement talks were first leaked I thought he'd be smart to just settle as long as any settlement didn't require an admission of guilt. But it was made abundantly clear that Vilma had no intention of kissing the ring of Goodell and going away quietly when Ginsberg filed a grievance about the leak of settlement talks. All indications thus far prove that Roger Goodell picked the wrong guy to smear with this bountysham allegation.
Jude Berrigan has requested that papers be filed by this afternnon (and they already have) proving when the decision was made as to the player suspensions. It appears that she considers the bounty comments made to the press about Vilma and $10,000 to be within the Commissioners authority if the decision on the players' suspensions had already been made. Here's a PFT link about it.
"It all centers on what did -- or didn't -- happen before March 21, the day that the NFL announced its punishments of the Saints, coach Sean Payton, G.M. Mickey Loomis, assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt, and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma claims that public comments made by Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding his alleged offer of $10,000 to whoever knocked Bret Favre out of the 2009 NFC title game on March 21 fall beyond the formal discipline process, and are thus subject to a defamation lawsuit, because Goodell hadn't fully investigated and resolved the question of Vilma's responsibility at the time the statements were made. The league claims within the confines of the bounty lawsuits that it was ready to discipline the players at the same time the non-players were disciplined on, March 21, but that the NFLPA specifically asked Goodell to delay the announcement.
NFL Submits Sworn Statement from Goodell on March 21 Issue
Though the judge didn't explain the reason for her most recent order, it appears that the judge wants to confirm that such a request was actually made, since that would tend to bolster the representation from NFL counsel Gregg Levy at the August 10 hearing in the bounty cases that any statements made on March 21, the date on which the descipline of non-players was announced, about Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma reflected conclusions reached by Goodell as part of the official disciplinary process contemplated by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. If the truth is that Goodell hadn't started the process of determining player penalties when publicly accusing Vilma and/or other players on March 21 of bounty-related wrongdoing, then Vilma's argument that those comments can provide the foundation for a separate defamation lawsuit becomes stronger.
Well, that's all fine and dandy. So the decisions on the suspensions was made back in March but Mr. Goodell was still claiming that no decisions had been reached over a month later in an interview with Rich Eisen? Why? You can't have it both ways, can you? I guess we'll soon find out.
Here's a transcript of an April 24 interview with Rich Eisen
First Eisen question:
Something else that is first and foremost to the New Orleans Saints in many people's minds about the punishment that you levied down based on the bounty case as well. When do you think the issue with suspending players who were involved with this is going to come to a head or a conclusion?
RG: "II hope to reach these decisions very soon. We have been continuing our work. We have continued to talk to players and other people that can give us a perspective. Once we have got all the information and we feel that we are in a position to be able to issue the fairest and most thorough types of decisions, we will do that but I expect to do that soon because this is a big element to me. This is player on player and what we want to do is make sure that people understand that there needs to be respect for players that play the game and that needs to start with players against players. We made it clear what we expect from the coaches and executives and clubs that these types of activities should not be occurring and that they need to do their part with each other and that starts with respecting each other.
So let me see if I've got this straight. The NFL is telling the court that the decisions had been made on the player suspensions back in March at the same time as the coaches and executives but was telling Rich Eisen over a month later that they had not reached a conclusion as to how to handle the player suspensions? Is that it? What they are saying is, "Yeah, we knew we were going to suspend them right when we started leaking stuff to the media but we didn't decide what they had done wrong at that point and how much of a suspension was deserved." Talk about a screw job.
BENSON MEETS WITH THE COMMISSIONER
Anyone wanna venture a guess what that meeting was like? No? OK, I will.
Benson: Good morning, Roger. How's the family?
Goodell: They're good, Tom. Let's get this thing started and do away with the pleasantries. I fucked up. I overreacted. But I am the Commissioner and that is what y'all pay me to do. You and the rest of the owners know that we are going to be raped in the upcoming concussion lawsuits and I had to make a statement to the world that we care about the safety of our players, our league in general and that we go above and beyond the duties required to look like we have cleaned up the game. It's about integrity. People will continue supporting us if we look benevolent.
Benson: Bullshit, Roger. There're no camera around. I've almost got the Freeh report all wrapped up and I don't think you are going to be pleased with what was found. This is the same guy that cannibalized Joe Paterno's corpse when looking into that Penn State mess about your buddy Jerry Sandusky. Freeh's investigators interviewed all the witnesses whose testimony you based all of the suspensions on and he has discerned that those who haven't already retracted their statements were not telling the truth in the first place. How can you not back down from your stance on the suspensions of my coaches and players when it is coming to light that you were bamboozled? Nobody will hold it against you. You've already said that the severity of the suspensions you have doled out was due in part to the players and coaches being untruthful with you. They were "untruthful" because you were asking them to prove a negative which isn't really possible. What are you planning to do to those who lied to you in order to get this train rolling in the first place?
Goodell: Well, Tom. Nothing. I am the end all, be all. I am omnipresent. I have already swayed public perception nationwide to the point that your club will never be trusted by fans of the game and when it comes down to it, that equates to higher ratings. Your team being vehemently hated by the rest of the country will inevitably force them to tune in when the Saints are playing, if for no other reason than to hate them while they are playing.
Benson: You know what, Roger. Money does not equate to integrity and these suspensions you have levied to uphold the integrity of the game have destroyed the integrity of your office. We'll see what the public thinks of the Freeh report.
ARE WE EVER GOING TO SEE THE FREEH REPORT?
Your guess is as good as mine.