As the City of New Orleans prepares to host the first Saints preseason game on Friday, they decided to finally take action about the growing homeless problem underneath the Pontchartrain Expressway.
It’s amazing how much you can learn about the local team by reading out of town sources. Did you know the Saints’ defense was cutting edge and on the verge of setting a new standard among NFL ball-hawkers and pigskin pilferers? Neither did I until I read a story in Friday’s Wall Street Journal titled “The Future of Defense in the NFL." With offensive output, as measured by total yards gained, increasing steadily the past three years, something had to be done to curb the trend of offensive domination. And that something is about to hatch in Who Dat Nation.
Two stories in the newspaper this week guaranteed to me that NFL training camps are under way. The first, of course, is the only story that New Orleans football fanatics are talking about, that the Saints descended upon the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia to begin another positively certain Super Bowl quest. The second story meant the same thing in my own peculiar linkage of thoughts when swarms of mayflies descended on the Midwest in their annual suicide mating rituals!
I don’t believe either the Saints or Jimmy Graham want an arbitrator to decide whether the talented pass-catcher is called a tight end or a wide receiver. If the arbitrator rules Graham is a tight end, the Saints’ qualifying offer of $7 million stands, and team gains some immediate leverage in the bargaining of a new contract. If Graham wins, he would stand to receive a one-year qualifying offer of more than $12 million that represents an average salary of the top wide receivers.
The Jimmy Graham franchise tag dispute reminds me of a Disney movie. You remember Dumbo the Flying Elephant whose oversized ears gave him the ability to soar like an eagle? Well, imagine Dumbo going to Walt Disney asking for a raise. It might go something like this:
Throughout the current NFL season, I have remained a die-hard New Orleans Saints fan. But I have also admired the Green Bay Packers. The Packers are one of the best examples of how a sports franchise should operate. They don’t go to the state capitol hat in hand, looking for a handout. The team is owned by citizen stockholders from all over Wisconsin, and the Packers’ management doesn’t regularly try to blackmail public officials into giving them more handouts under threat of picking up and moving the franchise.
Didn’t they make a movie about this? Giddy tourists leave their comfortable home to vacation in an exotic clime that promises fun, frolic and great excitement? Did you get a flashback of "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation" while watching the Saints venture off from the security of the Superdome Sunday for a disastrous road trip to St. Louis? Like the Griswolds, the Saints suffered every indignity imaginable as they gift-wrapped turnovers, missed field goals and made the Rams defense feel like it was Christmas morning.
What a difference a week makes! Last week, the Southeastern Conference’s birthright to the BCS Title game was revoked, the Saints had suddenly gone from darling to doofus and my beloved Bosox lost All-Star Jacoby Ellsbury to the hated Yankees. But six days later, the clouds have cleared away. The earth is once again spinning on its proper axis. And Christmas is just two weeks away!
Things became a little more difficult for our local heroes after NFL games Sunday.
Football is not conducive to the subject of perfect games. Although your team might win, you still have fumbles and penalties and passes the quarterback wishes he hadn’t thrown. But the Saints’ 49-17 walkover of the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night has to rank as a performance that flirted with perfection.
It was Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series. (I refuse on moral grounds to bring up Christian Laettner’s 10-for-10 field goals and 10-for-10 free throws in the 1992 NCAA regional final.)