NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - In an offseason that was sure to bring wholesale cost-cutting, the Saints began with a bang.
On Wednesday, the team cut ties with Will Smith, Roman Harper and Jabari Greer and announced they would not re-sign Jonathan Vilma.
None of the moves was surprising, but all had to be difficult to make.
"I have coached and been around a lot of great players, and I put these four guys right there at the top," head coach Sean Payton said in a statement.
It was not a surprise to regular readers of this column that a federal judge dismissed Jonathan Vilma's defamation suit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Thursday afternoon. League spokesman Greg Aiello announced the decision by federal Judge Ginger Berrigan via Twitter.
So Drew Brees, recent practitioner of the pass into triple-coverage, this week used Paul Tagliabue's Solomonic decision to vacate the Bountygate player suspensions to milk the public's disdain of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Drew, old buddy, a pretty smart guy once told me that when you point a finger at somebody, you still have three fingers pointing back at you, thumb notwithstanding.
Yes, the New Orleans Saints are off to a 2-5 start this season. And yes, they lost to teams they should have beaten, and often by squandering opportunities. However, they are far from the New Orleans “Ain’ts” of old. With some additional leadership, hard work, and a nasty, can do attitude, they could turn the season around.
Now that the NFL’s Roger Goodell appears to have unveiled what might be the pinnacle of his “mountain of evidence” against the New Orleans Saints, has he made his case?
In an affidavit the NFL produced Monday sworn to by former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, Vilma helped to fund an illegal pay-for-performance incentive pool and offered a $10,000 reward to any teammate knocking Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship Game.
According to a declared affidavit signed by former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the New Orleans Saints had a "pay-for-performance/bounty program. Here is a copy of the sworn affidavit. The Affidavit was given to Jonathan Vilma, the New Orleans Saints linebacker who was suspended by Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner.
@edwerderespn Ed Werder
"With suspensions overturned and players meeting with Commish Goodell, Drew Brees told me he still somehow hopes Sean Payton coaches in 2012"
So, according to the tweet, Drew Brees hopes that Sean Payton might return to coach the New Orleans Saints this year.
After last week’s embarrassing loss to the Washington Redskins, he better hope the return will come soon as in immediately.
The New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers, both losers of their opening games, are hoping to get back on the road to victories when they play one another on Sunday.
The game could be a get-even-affair as some Panther fans and players have accused the Saints defenders of trying to hurt some of their star players in prior football games, particularly Carolina’s QB sensation, Cam Newton.
So the Lord High Commissioner has agreed to meet with the four suspended players and hear their reasons why they should not be excommunicated from the realm for parts or all of the current season. In fairness, that opportunity was open to Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove since the suspensions were announced. But the elements of what makes them superb athletes - high emotion, a touch of arrogance and conviction in their own position - compelled them to walk out of such an opportunity. With Commissioner Roger Goodell's position softened by a three-judge appeals panel, he has opened the door once again and the players are going to walk through it, probably early next week.
Two, four, six eight…who don’t we appreciate?
Roger Goodell, NFL, Boo bountygate…
Perhaps that should be one of the pep rally cries right now as the New Orleans Saints team takes on the Washington Redskins in the Mercedes Benz Superdome on Sunday for the first game of the 2012 regular season with Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith now able to play after their suspensions were suddenly lifted.