Human motivation is a psychological phenomenon that coaches have tried to exploit for advantage in sports for years and years, and the Sean Payton-Era Saints have been no strangers to this type of PsyOps.
In 2006, as the first-year head coach saw his team gaining recognition and acclaim for good play during a winning streak, he placed mousetraps around the team facility to remind players not to "eat the cheese" of their own media hype and get trapped. That season he also placed empty gas cans in the lockers of aging veterans Joe Horn and Hollis Thomas to make sure they wouldn't run out of gas toward the end of the season.
Prior to the beginning of the 2007 season, the team held a mock "Jazz Funeral" in which they buried all the awards and prizes the team and individuals had earned the preceding year so they could focus on the coming year without resting on the laurels of their past success. Later that year Payton placed a trailer full of chairs, instruments, and music stands in a corner of the indoor practice field to represent the folks who jumped off the Saints bandwagon during the team's 0-4 start.
The 2009 Super Bowl season featured a slew of guest speakers and honorary captains (Ronnie Lott, Deuce!!!, Louisiana native and NBA coach Avery Johnson, among others), as well as the notorious baseball bats for "bringing the wood" to their opponents - oops. Sean Payton even impersonated Patriots coach Bill Belichick for a videotaped message he played for the team prior to the Monday Night Football game against New England. And who can forget the entire Sean Payton book chapter on PsyOps from Super Bowl week in Miami.
Earlier this year, the enormous, Mao-esque Sean Payton "Do Your Job" posters were hung at Saints HQ, and Acting Head Coach Aaron Kromer even got in on the head games by placing small mirrors in all the players' lockers to remind them to look at themselves and make sure they were doing everything they could as a man to help the team.
Now with the team's playoff hopes on life support with four games remaining in the season, current Acting Head Coach Joe Vitt finds himself in the position of perhaps needing to go this well once more for a little something extra to carry the staff and players through these last games. And I wonder, WWJVD? (What would Joe Vitt do?)
To that end, I have come up with a few ideas that might just "do the trick" (hahahahaha - I don't mind laughing at my own jokes, you know that) for Vitt and the Saints to spur them on to a 4-0 finish:
1) Hang an accelerator pedal from a 1984 Ford Tempo in each offensive player's locker. This would serve as a dual reminder to these chumps to help them shake off their recent woes. It harkens back to one of his great quotes from the Super Bowl that we have heard on Sound FX and the America's Game: The 2009 New Orleans Saints program, "I want the pedal down." And it also refers to the tempo that really drives the Saints' offense when it's humming along, and must be re-established for success.
2) Give each player, coach, and staff member a nicely wrapped gift package containing a GPS device in it. When they open it, the card inside will read: "You'd better do your damn job or you'll need this to help you find a new home." And if that doesn't help them find the lost sense of urgency, I don't know what will.
3) Put a single piece of Juicy Fruit in each player, coach and staff member's mailbox cubby in the mail room. And this gum can be attached to a note that reads: "If you don't get it done, Coach Payton's going to chew your ass out like a piece of Juicy Fruit when he gets back!"
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Now that you've read my thoughts for motivational ploys, why don't we fill the comment thread with ideas of your own? They could be broadly focused for the rest of the season, or individually focused on a specific opponent or game site. I look forward to seeing some of that trademark CSC creativity from everyone that I've come to know and love.