Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Saints Take The Bountiful Pipe

So the NFL leveled the biggest hit you'll see today on the Saints, seeing how big hits are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. For the crime of failing to cover up a program that probably exists in a dozen other locker rooms, the Saints lost their head coach for a year, their GM for half a year, their linebacker coach for six games, $500 grr and their second round picks this year and in 2013. And hell, there might even be more later for individual players.

Let's examine each of these losses in turn.

> Payton is the first coach to get this level of punishment, and it makes me wonder if he's long for the job. The Saints were already having a disastrous off-season by pissing off Drew Brees, and they can't keep their running backs healthy. The defense is going to get a lot worse, and it also wouldn't surprise me if they get a massive uptick in ref flags this year. There's only so much motivation you can take to go up against the world.

> The GM and coaching losses are high, and not because either man is some kind of defensive genius -- if a bounty system were all that the NFL is cracking it up to be, the Saints would be a lot better on defense than they are -- but because defense is about continuity. The Saints always had an erratic defense, but it's now about to get very consistent. Consistently bad.

> The picks are no small problem. Second round picks might be the best investment you can make, on a pound for pound basis. You frequently get real stars on the relative cheap here, because you get a motivated star that's fighting through a slight, or a guy who boomerangs from a previous injury. And if the pick busts, you aren't out that much money.

> The cash does not matter, because in the NFL, half a million bucks is a rounding error. Even in a small market like New Orleans.

A final point about this... if you are able to get an NFL player away from a mic or media and ask him what they really think about this, outside of team loyalties or dislike for a specific franchise or coach... they'll tell you this is bullsquat. There's no way to make a strong tackle with the possibility of causing a fumble or making an interception without the possibility of injury. Hell, grown men get seriously hurt in fake confrontations (aka, pro wrestling); how are they going to avoid injury with real violence?

The simple point is this: football is an indefensible act of violence. If we wanted it safer, we'd remove pads and helmets, since you don't see the monstrous injury record in rugby, sumo or Aussie football. If we wanted it safer, we'd outlaw kickoffs and punts. If we wanted it safer, we'd call blows to the head on every position on the field, rather than just the glory boys.

But we don't want it safe. We just don't want to have our noses rubbed in the hypocrisy. Which, of course, is why the Saints just took the pipe so bad...

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