Thursday, 14 June 2012 11:56

Spring eternal: New Orleans Saints best team, ever despite bounty, no Payton

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Optimized-spag-vitt22It happens every spring.


Since technically, this is still spring, we can say that.  We can also include summer since the NFL football follies claim this is the year.  Even the New Orleans Saints, which has had the worse offseason than perhaps any sports team in history, believe they have not only a chance, but a good chance to go all the way, meaning Super Bowl heaven.


Major NFL pundits have not ruled out the Saints as a top contender.  Joe Vitt, serving as the current coach substituting for Sean Payton (for a while until his Bounty suspension kicks in) is quite upbeat.

 Vitt says the current Saints are the best since he's been here.

 Considering the recent Super Bowl win, that’s saying a lot.

ABC 26 Sports analyst also believes the New Orleans team are one of the top in the league. 

 He recently said:

Buried underneath all of the negative publicity of the bounty scandal is this: in free agency, the Saints appear to have done quite well. The signed defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, a host of veteran linebackers, and Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs are just a few examples.

It's like the football version of Jack Canfield's Law of Attraction. The Saints have an excellent team, with a top shelf quarterback. Players want to come here.

Daniels places the Saints along with the other top NFC contenders—“ the Packers, Giants, Eagles, 49ers, and Saints.”


Of course, we still do not know of the Drew Brees fate, nor how the team will respond without Sean Payton and soon, without Vitt and General Manager Mickey Loomis (also suspended).

 So, I guess we will have to see how much spring the New Orleans Saints will have in their steps come late fall and going into winter.  

The first father of the NFL Archie Manning joined PFT Live Radio on Wednesday and he talked about sons Peyton, Eli and Father's Day.

He is promoting the NFL Sunday Ticket package on Direct TV, which has dropped the base price to $199, lowest in nearly a decade.

"It's a perfect Father's Day gift," said Manning "Or any football fan would enjoy it."

Do Peyton and Eli give him good Father's Day gifts?

"Their gifts are thoughtful and I look forward to Father's Day," said Archie, former Saints quarterback and face of the franchise for 12 seasons. "They do a good job with gifts."

Manning didn't play for a winning Saints team and took a beating behind their offensive lines. "We didn't win many games because it was change, change, change back then," said Manning. Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath said if Archie had played for a decent team he'd be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

How is Peyton doing? I visited him this week and he's really looking forward to this season. I haven't seen him throw since March, but he trains hard."

Peyton said Tuesday that he is not 100 per cent, but has his Broncos teammates convinced that whatever per cent he is physically, that could be plenty good enough.

"I can't emphasize enough I still have rehab to do, "Peyton told USA Today. "That's still part of the process." Veteran cornerback Champ Baily raved about his 35-yard TD toss in Tuesday's workout.

"Peyton really liked the Colts and Indianapolis and wanted to play their  his whole career," said Archie. "Most quarterbacks want to stay with one team, but today it doesn't always work out. He's happy in Denver."

Eli, who won his second Super Bowl MVP award last season, will try to lead his Giants back to the Super Bowl.

"That was Eli's second Super Bowl win, and knows that he shouldn't get caught up in doing too much away from football," said his father.

Eli starred on Saturday Night Live this offseason and got rave reviews. He was hoping to outshine his older brother who was in the show several years ago.

"They asked Eli to be on the show after his first Super Bowl, but he told them he'd do it after his next Super Bowl," said Archie.

Some parents have guided their sons away from playing football because of the former NFL players suing the league for not providing them with enough medical attention after concussions. How did Archie handle this with his three sons?

"As a parent, you don't want your sons to get injured," said Archie. "A lot depends on coaches teaching proper techniques to prevent injuries. Football isn't for everyone. If a youngster shows interest in it, let him give it a try. Youth programs are important."

Would Archie like to see either of his sons follow in his footsteps with the Saints?

"They're in good shape where they are," said Manning. "And the Saints already have a pretty good quarterback."

Does Archie have any injuries suffered in football that have stayed with him?

"No, not really," answered Archie. "No more than you expect, but a lot of the pains come with old age. I'm 63 now."

Also on the Manning radar is the annual Manning Passing Academy, which nearly 1,200 youths attend from July 12 to 15 at Nicholls State in Thibodaux.

"They come from all over the country and we have high school coaches and 36 college quarterbacks to serve as counselors," said Manning.


Saints coach Joe Vitt said his players will spend the final day of OTAs on the golf course.

"We do something like this every year," said the Saints' interim head coach. "Sean Payton did it with things like paint ball, go-kart riding or a water slide where former linebacker Scott Fujita suffered a minor injury.

But don't look for the golfers to pool their cash for longest drive, closest to the pin for be the first guy to knock someone unconscious with a ball.

Many teams are ditching the final day of OTAs. Like the last day of school, it's doubtful that anything truly useful would happen in the final session.

The NFL likes to hire aging rock/pop stars to provide the entertainment during the extended intermission at the Super Bowl. It is reported Van Halen has dropped a hint that his group will be here in early February for other than the gumbo...Newest Saints T-shirt: Front -- "Bounty Hunters", back --"this year we will do it for free."...New possible nickname for the New Orleans NBA team: "Spirit."...Good thing I don't select the entertainment for the Super Bowl. I’d have Merle Haggard singing "Moma Tried."...

SAINTS NOTEBOOK: Several other Saints missed Wednesday's workout because of ailments: LB Jonathan Casillas (back), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring), Jon Vilma (knee) and RB Mark Ingram (knee). DT Akiem Hicks (broken hand) didn't miss practice. RB Darren Sproles was excused to take care of business for his charity, and OT Zach Strief, who has missed practice time with an ankle injury, was back with the starting unit...With the exception of Vilma and Romeus,    the entire roster should be ready for the start of training camp on July 27...

The Saints are considering practicing against the Patriots in the week leading up to their preseason game at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 9...OT Marcel Jones, the Saints' seventh-round draft pick, has impressed with his fluidity and movement skills. He's 6-6, 320, with an 83 1/2 inch wing span. He has shown no ill effects of a back issue he had at Nebraska, and is quick off the mark...LB David Hawthorne (former Seahawk) has been working at all three LB sports. "When the Saints called me they wanted me more at middle linebacker, but once Curtis Lofton was signed they wanted me on the weak side. Hawthorne said he loves it down here He's from Texas, but he has family in Shreveport. He said his biggest strength as a player is that he can read and react fast to what is happening. He loves the physical side of the game, but said you have to play smart, too...

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Canal Street Chronicles publishes Saints Tweets. Some samples: Johnny Patrick@JojhnnyPAtrick32 "Today was my last day of my first OTAs. #Excited about this season. Now it's time for some vacation."  Jahri Evans@J_7TRE_E  "Looking forward to putting those pads on. B here no time. OTAs was just th3e beginning of great things to come this season>"...Will Herring @wherring54  "Just finished last OTA of year. I feel like school's out for the summer! Little break before the season starts."...

MISTAKES most players, especially rookie, make in their early years in the NFL: 1) Drinking, driving.  2) Buying a house too soon.  3) Will not set and adhere to a strict budge .  4) Will eat too much breakfast food.  5) Won't do enough to manage their body....Bleacher Report lists the meanest athletes of all-time and former Bears LB Dick Butkus is No. 1...Former LSU and NFL QB Y.A. Tittle is No. 76...
by Ed Staton and Bayoubuzz Staff

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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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