Friday, 01 June 2012 11:24

Goodell gloats, Vilma defends while Brees, New Orleans Saints fuss over Brady

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Many of us believe that NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell came down too hard on the Saints for their bounty system in order to ensure that bounties would be forever eradicated from the game.

The commissioner's plan is to plug the opening and declare victory. Goodell said bounties are no longer part of the NFL culture.

But Saints linebacker Jon Vilma doesn't think it's over. He said Goodell's refusal to show him evidence of his activities in the Saints bounty program is the reason why he didn't speak to league investigators about it.

"We asked for evidence and he wouldn't give it to us," Vilma told Ian Rapoport of "How can I defend myself when I don't know what I'm defending against? It's just logical, things that people decided to ignore.''

Rapoport writes that when Vilma, who is suing Goodell for defamation, was asked whether or not the union advised him not to cooperate with the investigation, Vilma responded by repeating the question about defending himself.

As per the Associated Press, Goodell said the actions he took in response to the bounty situation "speak very loudly," and that the teams have gotten the message.

Now, coaches surely won't be involved in bounties moving forward, but there's no guarantee that players are out of the bounty business, which has been in the league for ages. Especially because they can manage their own bounty pools beyond earshot of their coaches, on their own time in places away from their team buildings.

Moreover, with the penalties imposed against four players still pending on appeal, it's possible that the final message won't be very loud at all and that players will continue to use cash to provide the kind of immediate recognition from their peers that no paycheck or contractual incentive payment ever can.

If the action against the Saints pushes the process so far underground that no one ever gets caught in the future per Mike Florio of, then no one ever will know it's happening in the future – and the Commissioner's proclamation will seem to be accurate.

In other Saints news, Patrick Rishe has penned an interesting column for Forbes regarding the New Orleans Saints’ contract dispute with its famed quarterback, Drew Brees.

Rishe asks how the Saints can be dickering with Brees at a time when they need his leadership due to the embarrassments of this dark off-season and because the team surely does not need another public relations fiasco.

The author does look at the business side of the equation, and whether Brees is worth the five year contract that would pay him more than the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady who has won more Super Bowls.

Rishe ends his column justifying the costs by saying, “Then again, if there was ever a case where you could easily justify overpaying a player, this is it.  Because, at this particular time, is an extra $10-15 million in salary over the next 5 years worth restoring some much needed favorable PR ASAP?”

Ultimately, because his deadline to sign the franchise deal is July 16, we can expect continued bantering and posturing over the next 6 weeks.  He’ll end up between $19-21 million per year for either 4 or 5 years.

And while I do understand the financial discretion that the Saints are trying to exercise, it is just an ill-timed situation because it creates yet another black eye for the organization in that it appears they are playing hardball with arguably the most beloved sports figures in the city’s history.

Scouts weigh-in on LSU’s Spencer Ware director of college scouting since 2002  Wes Bunting says that LSU running back Spencer Ware reminds him a lot of former Cowboys running back Marion Barber and believes the Tiger could end up having a similar style career for himself in the NFL.

Bunting said when Ware is motivated, and he has his playing weight in check, he has the skill set to start in the NFL, wear down opposing defenses, and keep the offense ahead of the chains. However, the talent detective said Ware is never going to be a legit big play threat, and his shelf life is going to be short because of his demanding running style. The following are Bunting's good and bad notes on Ware.

These are the things Bunting said he likes about Ware:

He runs angry, craves contact, and plays with a nasty attitude; he showcases his natural patience at the line of scrimmage when asked to pick his way through contact inside; he does a good job of keeping his base wide when he wants to change directions, and looks natural sinking his hips and cleanly side-stepping defenders; he runs hard and angry, but has a little wiggle to his game at the line of scrimmage if he needs to make a man miss.

Bunting goes on to say:

He is patient setting up blocks toward the edge and uses his vision to stick his foot in the ground and gets up the field; he showcases a good feel in short-yardage and goal-line situations, runs low, can find small creases, and has the natural strength to push the pile;  he breaks a ton of tackles both at the line of scrimmage and in the open field; his running style is very demanding on defenses and they seem to wear down quickly; he doesn't leave many yards on the field, and can create his fair share of bigger plays because of his ability to side-step/break a tackle at the line and accelerate quickly in space.

Bunting says, Ware looks natural plucking the football out of the backfield; squares his frame quickly; and is a no non-sense type guy in the open field; he lowers his pad level in space and gets north to south quickly; he loves to finish runs, routinely overpowers on contact and falls forward;  he showcases "plus" balance through contact. Ware is able to absorb hits from defenders when they don't wrap and routinely keeps his legs moving through the play. He has proven he can carry a heavy workload during the early part of the 2011 season and be a workhorse back.

What Bunting didn't like about Ware:

Failed a drug test in October causing him to miss the Auburn game; he battled his weight throughout the second half of last season and broke down a bit physically, and lost touches because of it. Ware isn't the most explosive athlete, he doesn’t get up to speed quickly, but looks like a 4.55/4.6 athlete in space; he can keep his pad level down, but, when he accelerates, tends to get upright and will expose his frame; his running style could cause him to break down sooner rather than later; he is more smooth than sharp/sudden as a runner, and doesn't have great make you miss ability in any area. He is more of a downhill back.

Ware will share touches with four other Tigers running backs this season. And, with a passing quarterback, defenses won't be using eight defenders in the box in 2012.

News and Notes

LSU's softball ladies had an early lead, but No. 1 national seed California came back to claim a 5-3 win as a Session 1-record 8,149 fans gathered on Thursday at Oklahoma City...If Drew Brees sits out this season, Saints are a .500 team even though Chase Daniel is looking good in the OTAs...The Saints' two unrestricted free agents DTs are gone. Shaun Rogers signed with the Giants and Aubrayo Franklin has yet to sign with any team...Jeremy Shockey Tweets he won $10,000 betting on OKC Thunder. Shockey hails from the Sooner state...Do you believe Vilma when he says he didn't participate in any bounty program? Also, do you think Commissioner Goodell correct when he claims bounties are a thing of the past?

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by Ed Staton with assistance of Drew Walker

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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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