Brian Alee-Walsh posted this interesting story yesterday on the annual Saints Hall of Fame Golf Tournament at Chateau Country Club. Saints players (just a few) and coaches were actually on the same playing field together. It wasn't a football field, but it was a start at least. I'm just happy they were somewhere in the general vicinity of each other as it gives me a tiny sense or normality during the long, dark days of this seemingly endless lockout.
Because of the rules of the lockout, some described the day as a little awkward.
In one corner, representing the football operations, were GM Mickey Loomis and coaches Sean Payton, Gregg Williams and Joe Vitt, among others. In the other corner, representing the players’ "trade association,’’ were QB Chase Daniel, K Garrett Hartley, CB Leigh Torrence and LS Justin Drescher.
To say the day was strange and awkward for both sides would not be a stretch.
"I don’t know what I can and cannot say,’’ Hartley said. "Obviously, I’ll tell the (coaches) hello. We’re out here for a non-profit (outing) and just trying to hit a golf ball somewhat straight and enjoy everybody being around us, and enjoy the beautiful day.’’
At least both our players and coaches seem very well prepared to resume business as usual as soon as football operations resume. Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton seem ready to go at a moment's notice.
Loomis and Payton maintained a united front, reiterating that management is ready to hit the ground running the moment the league resumes business.
As of Monday, 115 days remained before the Saints are scheduled to open the NFL season at Lambeau Field against the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.
"We’ve been prepared,’’ Loomis told reporters. "We were prepared to go if the league year would have begun when it was originally scheduled (March 4), and we’ll be prepared when it’s ready to go. So, I don’t see it being a lot different other than we’re just in this holding pattern, at least at the club level.
"In terms of the (football operations) calendar, that’s up to Sean. We’ve talked about it. I don’t know if it serves a lot of purpose to do a lot of ‘what-iffing’ right now. There’s still time between now and training camp in late July. Obviously, (the lockout) has impacted the (offseason) program that we would ordinarily have. We’ll just adjust accordingly.’’
Loomis said the team's first priority when given the green light to resume negotiations will be to get their veteran free agents who are critical to their success in the fold.
"We still have a list of things that we want to get accomplished and when we’re able to do that we’ll go through that list one at a time,’’ Loomis said. "We don’t have a priority list in the sense that we want this done first. There’s a list of 18 to 25 things that we want to get done and get accomplished and we will do them as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
"It may be that No. 18 gets done before No. 1.
"Obviously,'' he said, "there will be a roster limit that we have to deal with and we got to have a certain number of people at each position. The most important thing for us is we got a number of guys who aren’t under contract that we’d like to have back with our team. I would say that those are the things that will be most important … guys that aren’t under contract who we’d like to have back with our team.’’
Asked if he were losing sleep over the lockout, Payton replied: "I think we typically lose sleep over things that we can’t control as coaches and this is something that we keep ourselves ready and prepared.’’
"I think we’re pretty good at adjusting schedules when we need to,’’ he said. "So that being said, you just want to make sure you’re putting everything together and you’re ready when the time comes. We’ve got a veteran locker room and we’ve got great leadership. Hopefully, sooner than later, we’ll have a chance ourselves to be working with everyone.’’
And what's this? Is Garrett Hartley switching positions to WR?
Based on the early "players only’’ workouts, it appears Hartley is in mid-season form. Not as a kicker but as a wide receiver.
"I was catching balls with Drew and Chase today; I caught all of them,’’ Hartley said proudly. "How often do you get to go out there and catch footballs from the MVP of the Super Bowl (XLIV)? My hands are a little bit sore but you know what, it definitely was a good time.’’
I highly recommend everyone click over and check out Alee-Walsh's entire article. It paints an interesting picture of what we can expect once this damn lockout finally ends. It's like an oasis of normality in a desert of football-less misery.