Friday, 11 February 2011 19:16

Saints Will Smith Suspension, Lockout Are New Orleans Uncertainties

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Ed Staton-Louisiana SportsSaints defensive end Will Smith may have to serve his four-game suspension this season.

The Starcaps saga that's been playing out for more than two years could finally end with Smith being suspended, which means the Saints will finally have to prepare for Smith being out four games. The Saints already needed help at defensive end because Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson weren't all that productive last season. Smith was double-teamed all season.

Smith was one of five players reportedly tested positive for a banned diuretic back in 2008. Retired running back Deuce McAllister and defensive end Charles Grant, who was released after the 2009 season, also were initially supposed to be suspended, but the Vikings' Kevin and Pat Williams also were among the players involved, but legal action by the Minnesota players put the suspensions on hold as the case went through the court system. The latest development came this week when the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled against the players. The court affirmed a lower-court ruling that the NFL didn't violate state law by trying to discipline the players.

An appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court still could come, but it is unclear if that will be pursued.

The Saints have the 24th over-all pick in the April draft.

The Saints lead the NFL with 27 potential free agents, but there is league labor uncertainty because there is no Collective Bargaining Agreement in place for 2011, so we don't know the exact rules for free agency, so there is lockout looming.

There won't be any free agency in 2011 unless or until there is a labor agreement.

For the 10th straight year, The Dallas Morning News has released its NFL franchise rankings. The newspaper ranks the franchises throughout history and the scoring system relies heavily on advancing deep into the postseason.

The NFL South franchises don't have the deep history that some teams do. The formula goes back to the first Super Bowl and the Saints were just getting started at that time.

There is no perfect system to rank franchises throughout history,

The Saints are No. 23 over-all.  The Texans are last at No. 32. Cincinnati, Arizona and Detroit are other bottom-feeders.

SOME HITHER, others yon: For the second straight year, ESPN will televise the LSU National L Club spring game. The game will be played on Saturday, April 9 in Tiger Stadium with a 3 p.m. kickoff and tickets to the game will be free. Details regarding the distribution of free tickets will be made in the coming weeks. The Tigers open spring football practice on March 11 as the Bengals begin preparations for the seventh season under coach Les Miles. The Tigers open the season in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Tex., against Oregon. The Tigers return 15 starters and a total of 33 lettermen from last year's team that posted an 11-2 record, beat Texas  A&M in the Cotton Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 8 in the country.

Drew Brees on what the Saints need to do to get back to the Super Bowl: "We just have to get some much-needed rest and then get to work. We also need to get some guys healthy again. I'm excited about some of our young players and feel that we have as good a shot as anyone to get back to the Super Bowl."

Two of my favorite quotes:

Shaq O'Neal on had he seen the Parthenon when he was in Greece: "I can't really remember the names of all clubs we went to."

Joe Theisman: "Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein."

I use a stunt man for tough questions.


Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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