Friday, May 18, 2012

PERSPECTIVE

DREW BREES
"Me. Hook it up."
Heard the interview on WWL with Drew Brees talking about his frustration with the Saints and the contract negotiations? Listen to it here. Really is a little depressing. Notably, Drew said:

"What's frustrating on my end is the lack of communication. I know that we've reached out on quite a few occasions, and at times I know I've been frustrated by the lack of response."


I don't think the negotiation should have been this difficult."

I don't know what to think at this point. The longer this drags on, the more I am inclined to think that the Saints should become a little more flexible in their stance. We've got like 17 linebackers under contract. Will Herring being one of them. He may have hit lots of home runs in the charity softball game this week, but that's more than he's done while wearing a Saints uniform. There is dead wright on the roster that can be cleaned up in the future to make extra cap room for Drew's future numbers. I am of the belief that Drew's cap number for this season will be less than his $16.6M cap number playing under the franchise tag.

All in all, if what Drew said on the radio the other night is true, stop playing this game of chicken and start talking again. I don't care who is right or who is screwing up the negotiations. Just get the god damn deal done. Period.

JONATHAN VILMA LAWSUIT
Coming to a courtroom near you: Vilma vs. Goodell

Maybe the lawsuit filed by Vilma against Roger Goodell violates the CBA and maybe it doesn't. We'll have to wait and see how this plays out. Article 43 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement states:

"Any dispute (hereinafter referred to as a 'grievance') arising after the execution of this Agreement  and involving the interpretation of, application of, or compliance with, any provision of this Agreement, the NFL Player Contract, the Practice Squad Player Contract, or any applicable provision of the NFL Constitution and Bylaws or NFL Rules pertaining to the terms and conditions of employment of NFL players, will be resolved exclusively in accordance with the procedure set forth in this Article, except when another method of dispute resolution is set forth elsewhere in this Agreement."

If Vilma was merely suing Goodell for suspending him, this clause would seem to cover Goodell's ass and keep this out of the courtroom, but that's not Vilma's claim. Vilma is suing Goodell personally for defamation of character, alleging that Goodell went out of his way to lie, misrepresent facts, and intentionally tarnish his reputation with the intention of swaying public perception into the league's corner as it concerns the allegations against Vilma and the Saints. If you're a Saints fan and you've paid any attention to the sentiments of fans throughout the league and the media covering this shit storm, you've noticed that they have all been eating the cheese that has been spoon-fed to them by Goodell and the league at large. Even local reporters covering the Saints, namely Jeff Duncan, have started referring to the Saints fans (who have been vocal about calling the NFL and Goodell on their shenanigans) as delusional, tin-foil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists. (It's one thing to cover the Saints with an unbiased perspective and another to demean the readers who butter your bread...but this is a rant for another place and time.)

In my opinion, this move by Vilma and his attorney can't hurt matters. How can it get any worse for Vilma? He's already been shut down for the year, is going to lose out on millions of dollars, has had his name dragged through the mud, and will forever be the face of this whole scandal. So what's he got to lose?

ROGER GOODELL 
"Why wouldn't you trust me?"
This was the NFL's official response yesterday to Vilma's lawsuit:

"We have not yet reviewed the filing. However, our commitment to player safety and the integrity of the game is our main consideration. We recognize that not everyone will agree with decisions that need to be made."

Stop with the payer safety schtick already. You really aren't fooling anybody. When the player suspensions were issued, NFLPA President Dominque Foxworth had this to say in regards to player safety and the notion that it's the league leading the charge for player safety:

"Over the years, it has been the players who've fought the league to make changes to the prevailing attitudes about health and safety in football. We led the change in the way concussions are addressed; successfully opposed 18-game seasons; demanded a change in the NFL's leadership on brain trauma research and prevention; created new benefits for cognitive injury; shortened and limited contact in practices; created a better injury protection benefit and a $100 million health and safety research fund. We continue to fight the NFL in 500 workers compensation cases."


Just stop it, NFL. Stop pretending like you could give two squirts of piss about anything more than the dollars you are making hand over fist. If you were so benevolent and cared about player safety, you wouldn't have been fighting against the benefits players were seeking throughout the negotiations of the last CBA. You wouldn't still be lobbying for an 18-game season. And most of all, you would have listened when current and former players cried out saying that bounty programs are as commonplace in the NFL as PEDs were in baseball during the steroid era, and not just scapegoated the Saints.

FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE

That's what I've got.

Faith in the players and coaches that are left to fight.

Hope for the 2012 Saints season.

And nothing but L-O-V-E for my city, its team and its fans.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

LETTING GO ISN'T EASY


Since early March we've all known that player suspensions were coming for those involved in the Saints pay-for-performance program. Reported initially that 22-27 players were involved in the program and that suspensions would be sweeping and severe had us all bracing for the cataclysmic demise of the Saints defense in 2012. Could it have been worse? Of course. Does that make all of this any less likely to be overblown, trumped up bullshit? Absolutely not.

After the NFC Championship Game, the Giants admitted to targeting Kyle Williams because he had sustained multiple concussions. Giants linebacker Jacquian Williams didn't beat around the bush when talking about it. He was quoted saying:


"The thing is, we knew he had four concussions so that was our biggest thing...to take him out of the game."


Considering that this was before the NFL released any statement to the public concerning the Saints and their pay-for-performance program, I'm sure that when league spokesman Greg Aiello was question about the Giants statements and intentions, he didn't think twice before making this statement:

"Players are held accountable for their actions on the field. There were no illegal hits to the head or neck area to Kyle Williams on Sunday. There was no conduct by the Giants that would suggest an effort to injure Kyle Williams in any way."


So that's that, right? There was no evidence of an intent to injure on the field of play during the actual game. No harm, no foul. Whatever happened or was said in the locker room before or after the game means absolutely nothing and is no reason to look any deeper into the matter.

Unless it's the Saints we're talking about.

I am absolutely not one of the tin-foil hat wearing members of the Saints fan base who believes that there is some underhanded scheme to keep the Saints out of the Superbowl in New Orleans this year, but there is no denying the hypocrisy in the league's handing of this matter. Anyone who has paid even the least bit of attention to the coverage of this mess has heard from former and current players that locker room pools are commonplace. No investigations, suspensions, fines, and/or character assassination of other players, teams and organizations? Well, ok then. Fine, upstanding league you're running there, Roger.

VILMA GETS FUCKED

Let's be real here for a minute. This season-long suspension is crap. Rape, murder, racketeering, sexual harassment, face stomping, cheap shotting, (the list goes on and on) all warrant less of a suspension than talking shit in the locker room? And that's what we are talking about here: words. Things said in the locker room to motivate teammates and induce a heightened sense of purpose before taking the field in monumentally huge games.

Players get fined and suspended week in and week out during the season for personal fouls and on-field indiscretions. Taking that into consideration, any "bounty" related hits that were outside of the scope of the game should have already been assessed a fine and/or suspension, correct? Seeing as this never happened to Jonathan Vilma, he is being punished for shit talking in the locker room and being a team captain. Here's Vilma:

"I am shocked and extremely disappointed by the NFL's decision to suspend me for the 2012 season. Commissioner Goodell has refused to share any of the supposed evidence he claims supports this unprecedented punishment. The reason is clear: I never paid, or intended to pay, $10,000, or any amount of money to any playing for knocking out Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, or any other player out of the 2009 divisional playoff game, the 2010 NFC Championship Game, or any other game.


"I never set out to intentionally hurt any player and never enticed any teammate to intentionally hurt another player. I also never put any money into a bounty pool or helped to create a bounty pool intended to pay out money for injuring other players. I have always conducted myself in a professional and proud manner. I intend to fight this injustice, to defend my reputation, to stand up for my team and my profession, and to send a clear message to the commissioner that the process has failed, to the detriment of me, my teammates, the New Orleans Saints and the game."


Will Smith also says the commissioner is a lying sack of shit.


Right when this whole story broke in early March, Adam Schefter reported that the likeliest of Saints players to be suspended for their role in the pay-for-performance program were Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith because of their roles as defensive captains. Looks like he was right.

NOW WHAT?

So here come the appeals. Appeals which will go absolutely nowhere and mean absolutely nothing. How the NFLPA allowed it to be collectively bargained that all appeals for off-field punishments are heard solely by the commissioner is beyond my understanding. The only resolution that could possibly come from this travesty is going to be through the courts and there is speculation that there isn't much of a remedy for the suspended players using that avenue either. The NFLPA seems to think they're going to have their day in court according to Schefter who quoted them saying,

"Get ready for a massive multiple legal battle over this on several fronts."


I hope so. This is the livelihood of these guys and they definitely should not go gently into that good night. I'm not holding my breath for the four suspended players to be vindicated in this matter, but I do hope it drags out like the Starcaps case did. The Saints have a window for winning and it is still open. Smith and Vilma's suspensions do not close that window. Hell, the Saints went 5-0 with Vilma on the sidelines last year. Spagnuolo is installing a new defense, so Vilma's understanding of Gregg Williams' ridiculous schemes no longer plays a role in his being the "quarteback of the defense." Still, I hope they stick it to that ginger bitch and wipe that shit eating grin off his holier than thou face before he has to hand over the Lombardi Trophy to the formerly suspended members of this team and organization in the Dome come February.

Oh yeah, Anthony Hargrove, you statement-signing-cheese-eating-ass-covering-motherfucker, go call your sponsor. Have him explain to you what "except when to do so would injure them or others" means.