FanPost

1999 Saints Draft Ricky Williams: When Hyperbole Meets Fact

One of the biggest memes (yes, meme not theme) perpetuated on CSC is the false narrative. When folks repeat something so much that it eventually becomes accepted as fact. You know, like some fella being the 3rd greatest ping pong player in Saints history. Or, Bill Kuharich actually having a hairline.

Anyway, one such false narrative reared it's ugly head (yet again) on CSC yesterday and I figured, hey, might as well address it. This particular narrative is about how the Ditka trade in the 1999 draft so he could pick Ricky Williams crippled the Saints for years. This isn't the first time this has been postulated on CSC, but yesterday's comments on another post was the latest.

Here's a brief recap, starting with the initial comment by a fellow CSCer.

He was a horrible coach and ruined the Saints for more than just his time as coach. The trade for Williams set the Saints back years. No other player or coach has inflicted as much harm on the organization as a whole as he did. On top of that, he was a d-bag to fans and was notorious for being rude to folks in the service industry across the city.

Hey, I can absolutely roll with the idea of Ditka being a d-bag and completely agree that he was horrible coach but I drew the line at the Saints being set back for years because of that trade.

My response.

Actually, that’s not true. Randy Mueller came in and cleaned all that up. Ditka’s last season was in 1999 and the Saints won the division and had their first playoff victory in franchise history in 2000. The problems with the team which followed the 2000 season was on Jim Haslett, his staff and their decisions.

And, of course, the obligatory counter-reply.

You cannot lose 8 players and not be set back significantly. Especially when you consider they would all be young and play for years. You also have to consider those voids had to be filled and were done so in free agency and/or follow-on drafts. The team did well under the beginning of Hazlett’s regime, so those picks could have led to more than our first playoff win.

Ripples make waves. If you have to fill a bunch of voids in free-agency then you are spending a lot of money in many areas instead of going after one big splash difference maker, OR in the case of future drafts, filling gaps instead of going after BPA.

That draft cost team far more than is seen on the surface.

It is this person's assertion (yet again) that the team was setback for years by the trade, but yet, they only offered theory and assumption to back it up. Making claims/assumptions about "ripples", voids", "spending a lot of money", and the ominous but conveniently well-hidden "draft cost team far more than is seen on the surface".

Okay, let's start with this assumption from the comment.

The team did well under the beginning of Hazlett's regime, so those picks could have led to more than our first playoff win.

Could have led to more playoff wins? Really? Based on what? A crystal ball? After Randy Mueller was run outta town on a tramp steamer, as long as Haslett was the Head Coach and Brooks was the starting QB, the Saints future was tied to those two guys. Not some imaginary coulda/woulda/shoulda draft picks.

And what picks are they referring to? The Saints gave up 8 picks total in 1999 (6) and 2000 (2). The '99 picks would have been made by the same imbecile who engineered the trade so there's no guarantee he would've done anything worthwhile. And there were only 2 picks in 2000 a 1st and 3rd . The Saints (as well as every other team in the league) have a history of screwing the pooch on 1st round picks, so there's no guarantee that they would have grabbed one of these "bodies" which would have led to more playoff wins during the Haslett era.

Also, there's this whopper of an assumption.....

You cannot lose 8 players and not be set back significantly. Especially when you consider they would all be young and play for years.

First of all, the Saints did not lose 8 players. They traded away 8 draft picks. How often does a team go a perfect 8 for 8 in the draft and fill a roster spot with EVERY player they drafted? Or, more specifically to the point of this individual's HUGE assumption, how often does a team go a perfect 8 for 8 in the draft and fill roster spots with players that would contribute for "years"?

Even without examining the Saints draft picks over the years, it's easy to see that this is a complete fallacy. But, just for s**** and giggles, let's do it anyway.

Here are Ditka's two previous drafts before the 1999 debacle.

1997

1 - Chris Naeole

2 - Rob Kelly

2 - Jared Tomich

3 - Troy Davis

4 - Danny Wuerffel

4 - Keith Poole

6 - Nick Savoie

1998

1 - Kyle Turley

2 - Cam Cleeland

4 - Fred Weary

4 - Julian Pittman

5 - Wilmont Perry

6 - Chris Bordano

7 - Andy McCullough

7 - Ron Warner

Okay, so which of these drafts indicates that Mike Ditka would have gone a perfect 6 for 6 in the 1999 draft with players who would have contributed for "years"?

Here's the Saints 1st and 3rd round choices during the Haslett era.

2001 - Deuce Mccallister and Kenny Smith

2002 - Donte Stallworth and James Allen

2003 - Jonathan Sullivan and Cie Grant

2004 - Will Smith and No 3rd Rd Pick

2005 - Jammal Brown and Alfred Fincher

Out of 9 draft picks over five seasons, the Saints hit on 4 of 9 (Deuce, Donte, Will, Jammal) who contributed for "years" and 1 other player (James Allen) who was a marginal backup and ST player. But, the point being, they never went 2 for 2 on the 1st and 3rd round picks. Unless you consider 2002 with Stallworth and Allen as a shining example of these "8 players" who the Saints would have drafted in 1999 and 2000 who would have been young and contributed for "years" to the Saints racking up even more playoff wins under Haslett.

Regardless of what anyone may think/assume about what the Saints coulda/woulda/shoulda done with those 8 draft picks that Ditka's dumbass blundered away in the Ricky Williams trade, there is NO EVIDENCE that the team was crippled or setback for years because of the trade.

Actually, all the evidence points to the contrary. The team survived very well after that trade winning a division title along the first playoff victory in franchise history. Any subsequent missteps, before and after the firing of Randy Mueller, should be placed on who was making the decisions for the franchise during that period.

Yes, it was a MONUMENTALLY stupid ass thing to do and Ditka is the ULTIMATE MORON in the history of the New Orleans Saints franchise. But, as I said in my original comment, that trade did not cripple the team for years because Randy Mueller came in and cleaned up the big bag of s*** that Ditka left behind.

Anything that happened after 2000 was on the new regime.

This FanPost was written by a reader and member of Canal Street Chronicles. It does not necessarily reflect the views of CSC and its staff or editors.

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