Who Dat Nation has taken a relentless array of shots over the last three months. We have endured the type of haymakers that would devastate a more fragile fan base, yet we continue to stay on our feet. Battered and bloodied but with our chins out, gesturing, "C'mon, is that all you got?". We haven't gotten weaker, we've grown stronger...and angrier.
There is a lot of blame to go around and a lot of people to project it onto. Although there are some that are implicitly guiltier than others here, there are a lot of folks who have negatively affected the Saints, the Saints family, and the city of New Orleans.
This entire ordeal has been so surreal that it really seems like fiction. All of the players here are so intertwined at this point that it is almost disturbing. So here is your Rogues' Gallery.Roger Goodell - The Politician
Goodell has been in the crosshairs since Day One. He has been seen as equal parts puppet master and fascist dictator by many. Goodell claims to "protect the shield" above all else, but has severely damaged one of the franchises under the shield. This entire process desperately needed a scalpel but he brought out the hatchet. Goodell clearly relishes the role of judge, jury, and executioner.
Gregg Williams - The Enemy Within
Williams brought this albatross to the organization and left it here, where it has grown into an unstoppable beast. He parlayed one season of motivational success into unbalanced control over the entire Saints defense. The pied piper of bad juju, Williams' negative conduct incubated in New Orleans when it was unable to survive elsewhere. Simply stated, No Williams = No bounty program. What is unclear though, is this, does No Williams = No Super Bowl?
Sean Payton - The Unchecked Ego
From Vicodin to bounties, Payton has ruled the Saints with a recklessness that was bound to catch up with him. It is his success and his greatest attributes that have been his undoing. Cover-ups and denial have put his career on hold and sent him into exile for a season. Ignoring warnings and warning signs on lesser infractions without repercussions allowed this situation to get so aggressively out of control. He needed to be up front from the beginning, but when you get in this deep without ever having to answer for yourself it may be hard to do.
Mickey Loomis - The Cleaner
It's Mickey's job to make things go away. He tells Benson what he wants to hear and gets Payton what he needs to stay happy. As long as Loomis keeps the League away and the players signed, then it's job well done. Well, Mickey ignored the League too much and they finally broke past his door. Also, the face of the franchise has not been signed. He demands patience from the fans in an increasingly impatient time.
Tom Benson - The Enabler
Benson has come off like a father in total denial of his children's behavior. Loomis and Payton have run the organization unchecked under Benson, to his benefit. This is part of the problem. Benson knows that without Payton and Loomis, the organization could lose money and status at an alarming rate. Their success is his success and he turned a blind eye when they needed a stern hand. Benson is also looking incredibly cheap concerning the Brees contract. Money for the NBA but not the most important player in Saints franchise history? Priorities, Mr. Benson, image is important here.
Sean Pamphilon - The Parasite
Clearly an egomaniacal sociopath, this guy is an absolute train wreck. Jimbo03 eloquently dissected Pamphilon in a recent post by Dave. This guy has used anyone he could burrow himself into within the Saints family and organization. Obviously nothing is off limits with him and his delusions of self-grandeur are hurting everyone he comes in contact with. Once he felt spurned by members of the Saints family during his "quest for truth" he showed his true colors. He is actually likely upset that the scandal even came out when it did. He surely wanted to be the one who broke the whole thing open himself. Then he could be the man to take down Goodell and the most powerful sports machine in America! Sure, dude. Men like Steve Gleason and his family carry the greatest burden from Pamphilon's path of shame. Tragic.
Jonathan Vilma - The Outcast
Vilma is actually one of the bigger victims here. A clear scapegoat for the NFL's "cleaning up the game" agenda. A boogeyman to lock back in the closet, then demolish the house upon. But Vilma is clearly not without any guilt here, and his insistence on absolution may have angered the league to drop more "evidence" onto our laps. The NFL may have more evidence (manufactured or not) than we may realize and are picking their spots on when to use it, like when they feel provoked by a player (Vilma) or when the union tries to show them up. This may be the good fight Jon, but it may not be worth fighting (see Sean Payton).
Drew Brees - The Tarnishing Savior
Drew Brees could probably get away with anything in New Orleans, except coming off as greedy and selfish. Brees has delivered all that Saints fans could have ever asked for and more. Now Brees wants to be compensated for his efforts. While some think Benson and Loomis are to blame, others see Brees and his camp as the ones at fault. Unwilling to compromise and see the long term effects of this pivotal contract, Brees has appeared out of step with New Orleans and the Saints for the first time since his arrival. The Brees contract is a cloud that hangs over all of us. It can suffocate us or carry us out of despair.
The Media - The Feasting Jackals
I have said my piece on the media. Whether it is personal or simply business is not the question here, though. They are clearly piling on and they can't seem to get enough of this story. Media outlets are jumping all over themselves to scoop the next story or the next angle. Without regard to facts or even credible sources, they jump at anything remotely negative about the Saints. I may believe they'd do it to any franchise but unfortunately, they're doing this to us and it is absolutely horrible.
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This could be too much for any fan base to carry in a decade, much less one single offseason. But we are the NFL's most unified and resilient fan base and we will not go away quietly. Looking back, I laugh at the days when StarCaps was the biggest scandal around here. Those were simpler times folks, simpler times.
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Tell us what you think by voting in the poll, and then leave your comments below. Do you agree with my characterizations? Who has angered, upset, or disappointed you most this offseason?