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Negative Saints Media Coverage is Nothing Personal

Who Dat tears sustain me, your agony gives me strength!
Who Dat tears sustain me, your agony gives me strength!

Mike Freeman, Pete Prisco, and Skip Bayless are all card-carrying members of the trash talkin' Saints hatin' club. In fact, they are just the tip of the iceberg of media members and outlets who have relentlessly piled on the New Orleans Saints since the bounty scandal broke in March. It is clearly obvious that the media has come after the Saints without remorse because they are jealous of their success, while their darlings in Dallas toil in mediocrity. As Saints fans that's what we'd like to believe.

That type of reaction to the media is what we take solace in. We're used to being the underdog, the unwelcome guest. The role of being the favorite has never fit the Saints well (see: every matchup against the NFC West since 2010). We as Who Dat Nation are hoping the Saints take this attitude onto the field this season as well. "They talk about us like were criminals, they write about us like we're mercenaries, we'll show them mercenaries," they'll say. We'll cheer on our rebels and the media will stew and cringe.

In reality the media could care less.

To the national media the New Orleans Saints = insert team name here. A sports franchise that found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. There was never any bias against the Saints in the media before the scandal broke, the Saints were victims of circumstance. Before the scandal, I doubt Prisco or Mike Florio could've even picked Jon Vilma out of a lineup with his #51 jersey still on. They, like others, are just sensationalist writers looking for an angle to exploit. These "journalists" would be burying Philadelphia just as easily as they are burying New Orleans if this were Philly's burden to bear.

Am I saying Roger Goodell and the NFL are justified in the way they have handled this situation? Absolutely not. I am saying that the media would have consumed whoever the NFL's target was, only because it benefited them financially. As Saints fans, the Saints are squarely the center of our focus but to the media and sports writers they are middle of the road NFL fodder.

If any semblance of bias exists whatsoever, it is likely that the advertising money driven sports media actually laments the fact that the Saints are the story here. It would potentially be far more lucrative for them if this were the Dallas Cowboys bounty scandal. If you thought the media coverage was relentless now, imagine if this were about the Dallas Cowboys or Chicago Bears. If Brian Urlacher was hit with a year long suspension, the coverage would be absolutely suffocating. Major sports media outlets would be pulling in countless advertising dollars due to huge increases in viewership and readers.

The media, though, will take what they can get, and what they got was the Saints. Tough break for them, catastrophic break for us. News out of Dallas, New York, and New England is like printing money for media outlets. New Orleans, Green Bay, and Pittsburgh are not ideal but they can spin those angles. They're just glad this story didn't break in Buffalo or Atlanta, ugh. Negative stories sell ads and new faces to negativity get people interested. If Plaxico Burress is involved in a strip club shooting it will get headlines for a while, if Tim Tebow is involved in the same shooting, your television would melt right before your eyes. Positive sells movies, negative sells headlines.

The Saints made for a good media story from 2005-2010 but the feel-good angle ran its course, and as much as America loves a rags to riches story we also love to see the mighty fall from good graces. This angle is working against us right now and it's leaving a bitter taste in our mouths. The media thrives off sensational stories and this one is right in their wheelhouse. It works out perfectly for them because they can cover it ad nauseum without having to carry any of the emotional weight of a true scandal like Penn State. They can spin this any way they wish and can feign morality where no true moral issues exist.

Now, when the fleur-de-lis comes up on ESPN, I have a Pavlovian response where I cringe and wait for more bad news to follow. I have been conditioned to respond this way by the media, but they don't do it out of spite or hate for us. They really don't care about us enough to hate us. They would do it to any fanbase and they have.

To whom much is given (media attention), much is expected (stories and scandal). The higher the Saints climb the ladder of marketability, the greater the scrutiny against them will become. Just remember, it's not personal, it's business.