Friday, 13 July 2012 11:40
Drew Brees now Freeh to prove his New Orleans Saints 100M deal
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brees-733248Now that the minor financial issue is out of the way, the most important and maybe the toughest challenge for Drew Brees may be yet to come. Brees now must walk over to the other side of the table, take his seat and show the world that the face of the New Orleans Saints franchise is back on duty. He needs to do everything possible to help put the most damaging four months in franchise history in the rear view mirror. He needs to help dispel any lingering effects of the past four months, whether it is among his teammates, the fans and the NFL as a whole. He also needs to prove that the Saints still will be a factor come January. More on that later.

 


There was never a doubt that Brees and the Saints would get the deal done, that it would be for an all-time NFL record amount and that negotiations would go to the witching hour. It was done even more quickly than my old mentor George Young, the late GM of the New York Giants, would have predicted. As I have written here before, Young always told puppy negotiators not to get excited about contract disputes until Bastille Day. The implication is that Bastille Day, which is July 14, is usually the week before training camps open. That Brees and the Saints beat Young's maxim by one day is less important than the signing itself, which is sending hosannahs throughout Who Dat Nation.


So enjoy it today, because there are more potholes ahead. Not one is bigger than former FBI Director Louis Freeh's independent investigation of Bountygate. Freeh was in the news on Thursday after releasing his independent investigation of the sad Penn State saga. He discovered that Joe Paterno had a much deeper knowledge of the events than was thought before. At this moment, Freeh is the top investigator in the country, and he will get to the truth, whatever that might be.


Also ahead are the Dueling Lawsuits which will strike some ugly chords if allowed to continue. Jonathan Vilma says his good name was ruined by the NFL investigation and he has filed a federal slander suit against Commissioner Roger Goodell. The NFL has asked District Judge Ginger Berrigan to throw out the suit, because it is an illegal suit that belongs in the realm of collective bargaining. The NFL has just filed its own grievance saying Vilma's suit violates the CBA, and I suspect the league will prevail. You can't sue the government, and you can't sue the NFL when a Collective Bargaining Agreement is in full force and effect.


But remember that all these suits and allegations of slander and investigations were allowed to fester in large part because Brees and the club could not reach agreement on a new contract. The Brees' impasse added another huge log onto a raging fire of discontent. That part of the equation now is ended. The Saints came up, Brees' agent Tom Condon came down and the deal was struck.


Now Brees needs to get on the field next week and start working to put the rest of it behind him. If you saw his face at the Espy Awards when boorish master of ceremonies Rob Riggle cracked a bad joke about the Saints having a secret fund, you could tell he is tired of the talk. He needs to spin the good feelings of his career-ending contract into shutting down such negatives once and for all. That's what we all should expect from the highest paid player in NFL history and the face of the franchise.


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Jim Miller's new book, "Where the Water Kept Rising," is now available in local bookstores and at his website: www.JWMillerSports.com

 

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