James Varney's State of the Saints: Pretty, Pretty Good!

James Varney posted this piece on nola.com earlier today. In it, he discusses the Saints ticket sales for 2011, and also fleshes out some ideas that lead me to believe that the Saints as a franchise are in pretty good shape, all things considered (lockout, player hatred of owners, pending litigation up the wazoo, economic hard times for the U.S., hurricane season on the way, Winter is Coming, etc.).

Make the jump to read some snippets from his story and then sound off with your opinion and thoughts on the matter.

Varney notes a successful ticket-selling season by the Saints:

In the end, the team will have sold 73,000 seats in the renovated Superdome, the sixth straight season the club has sold out, continuing a string of home sellouts that began Sept. 25, 2006 -- the emotional Monday night homecoming against Atlanta the Saints enjoyed more than a year after Hurricane Katrina.

...that comes in daunting times for the league, where in addition to the labor strife..

Last September, the NFL announced season-ticket sales had declined overall for the third consecutive year, an unappealing trend it attributed to the ailing economy.

Both the owners and players are doing what they can in the media to bolster their sides:

The message from Commissioner Roger Goodell and his lieutenants has been that the owners want football as much as the players, and that they will do whatever it takes at the negotiating table to hammer out a deal.

The owners' unyielding positions at the bargaining table and their collusion in pooling television revenue to fund a lockout war chest are evidence of their bad faith, Brees said, and a wide gulf continues to separate the two sides as various cases wend their way through the federal courts.

In the face of all this, the Saints' fan support has held strong:

"During this process, our marketing, ticket and suite sales departments speak to each and every account holder, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive," Bensel said.
Such rosy comments might be chalked up to an organization's careful public relations, but Bensel's opinions closely tracked those offered by many fans at last week's charity softball game to benefit the Heath Evans Foundation.

On all fronts, the Saints are maintaining "business as usual" as much as possible...

Bensel was also careful to note that, unlike some other franchises where talk of layoffs and furloughs has been open, Saints staffers have received no such ominous messages.

For example, General Manager Mickey Loomis and Coach Sean Payton have said they are approaching their jobs with the expectation the season will unfold more or less as scheduled.

Saints players, too, have been active, particularly in the informal workouts Brees has organized at Tulane.

So, with all that said and done, it seems that the Saints are in pretty good shape, overall (and John Clayton agrees that the Saints are in better shape than most, so take it to the bank, Buster!). A sold-out 2011 Superdome (if the season happens at all), and office/coaching staff and players doing what the can to keep on keepin' on...it all makes me tend to agree.

But what do you think? Has the team done enough? Should it be doing more, and if so, what, exactly?

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