Sorry, everyone. The mailbag's late today. I had more technical difficulties this week than a Saints defensive tackle. HEYYOO! Seriously, though, it's not SB Nation's fault (this new design is sick, am I right?). If you need someone to blame, may I suggest Roger Goodell?
Speaking of Roger Goodell (that's how you do a smooth segue right there, folks), this weekend's matchup features the two teams in the league whose fanbases probably harbor the most animosity toward the Most Righteous King, so in his honor, I've accepted only Roger Goodell-related questions this week. And GO!
Mack Wasalla, Waukesha, WI:
"Holy crap, Roger Goodell is ruining the game! He’s terrible! Did you see that last week? I can’t believe he’s doing this to us!"
Shut up. Just stop it. We tried to tell you. We’ve been trying to tell you for months. And when the replacements showed up to lay it to the entire league, everyone was fine. "They’re bad, but they’re not costing anyone a game! They haven’t decided an outcome yet." Yet, genius. Yet. I hope this can serve as a lesson to all of you. When the commissioner sets out to destroy another team, and you turn a blind eye, you’re as guilty as he is when the next lick comes your way.
Seahawk fans, by the way, are the worst. Truthers, the lot of them. What goes around comes around, fellas.
Janice Patrice, Appleton, WI:
"Did you see that Roger Goodell actually defended the refs? He said there’s no evidence that they’ve compromised player safety! He’s a liar! A crook! A NAZI!"
Well, I'll get to that quote in a minute. It is indeed quite infuriating. But first, this "Nazi" thing.
That’s become the go-to keyword for Roger Goodell, hasn’t it? The message boards are satisfying Godwin's Law at an extraordinary pace these days. Nazi! I don’t like it. Besides the obvious hyperbole in calling any sports commissioner a Nazi, the comparison doesn’t hold weight. How is he a Nazi? He’s, like, mean and stuff? Whatever, that’s lazy. Goodell's evil deserves some nuance. David Stern is a Nazi. Your high school English teacher was a Nazi. Dan in Lafayette is a Nazi. Goodell is a sixteenth-century French Catholic Leaguer.
"Oh, great. Is this one of those things where you make a hyperbolic comparison between the NFL and a vastly oversimplified version of some historical event?"
Why, yes, it is! But damn, isn’t that the same thing as the Nazi reference? At least I’m putting some thought into mine.
See, the comparison works on a few levels. The sixteenth-century French believed that their king was put in place by divine providence. Sound familiar? He was tasked with not only protecting the kingdom, but also with rooting out heretics. Like that blasphemous Protestant scum Gregg Williams. Or something. Anyway, they got so caught up with rooting out this heresy that they came up with all kinds of ridiculous stories about the heretics, and basis in fact wasn’t really important. The goal was simple: demonize the Saints Protestants, and protect the One True Shield Church. Blood libel? Yes sir! Had Roger Goodell accused the Saints in March of human sacrifice and cannibalism, I’m quite sure the Jeff Duncans of the world would have swallowed it. You know what I mean.
Anyway, eventually a big bloodletting occurred, and in the minds of the oppressors, the Protestants had only themselves to blame.
Anyway, back to that infuriating quote you mentioned. Roger Goodell said this:
I do not believe this [the replacement ref fiasco] put any greater risk to player health and safety, there is no data to back that up.
I fell out of my chair when I read that nonsense. The delusion. The arrogance! Six months ago Roger Goodell accused the Saints of all sorts of crimes without a shred of evidence of the "risk to player health and safety." Does this dude even think before he talks?
Packer fans, you swallowed that crap in March. You have only yourselves to blame. One more time:
I do not believe this put any greater risk to player health and safety, there is no data to back that up.
Wow. Take comfort in the fact that eventually hunger for power and righteous indignation turned the most bloodthirsty Catholics against the king. Division within! We can only hope that our strictly-metaphorical Jacques Clément will show up soon. Maybe it’ll be Jonathan Vilma. (The knife is a metaphor for a lawsuit, or something.)
For the record, I’m acutely aware of the irony in the analogy of Saints as Protestants, and also all the many other reasons this analogy is a failure. But it gave me a chance to use the term "blood libel," a reference everyone usually enjoys, and a Dominican monk killed the Commissioner with a dagger 400 years ago, so there’s that.
Bret Farmeit, Green Bay, WI:
"I texted a picture of myself to Roger. Told him it was from you Saints fans. Boom!"
Nice. Take that, Goodell.
"Hell yeah, that’s what ahm talkin’ bout! Roger can kiss my redneck –"
Ok, that’s enough.
"My high school team would whip them Golden Eagles’ ass, you know."
Hey, that’s not cool.
"YEEE-HAW! I’M A PACKER FAN WRANGLER WRANGLER CHEESEHEAD WRANGLER!"
Shonn Pateen, Manitowoc, WI:
"Wow, the Saints sure do need their Head Coach. He should get a raise next year. They should give him another six and a half million just on principle. Sure does show how much credit he should get for that Super Bowl run. Even his press conferences are better. Everyone is a moron next to that genius. What a great guy. You miss him yet, bro?"
That wasn’t about Roger Goodell at all.
John Parker, Wausau, WI:
"What are you guys even mad about? According to the new rules, interceptions are bad and wide receivers don’t have to catch the football to score a touchdown. Advantage: Saints, right?"
Fair enough! Also, in this brave new world, you can bitch and whine about the refs for a solid week – to the point that the NFL just puts the refs back on the field – after allowing like 43 sacks, none of which the Packers should be blamed for, because, you know, referees.
Or maybe – just maybe – the Packers aren’t really that good either. It’s entirely possible that this weekend’s matchup of two teams who are a combined 1-5 is, in reality, a matchup between two pretty bad teams. At least right now.
I’m wondering if the referees gift-wrapped an excuse for the Packers last week. A reason to believe that 1-2 isn’t a reality. Hey, I’m happy for you guys. We have an excuse too, am I right? Ours isn’t going away, though. We can ride that excuse straight through January to the 3rd overall pick. Yours, my Packer friend, is gone.
Sarah Montazo, Oshkosh, WI:
"How do you think the Goodell Bowl will turn out? You’ve predicted three Saints wins, and every time you were really wrong, because the Saints lost the first week, and the Saints lost the second week, and the Saints –"
Ok, we get the point. Thanks, though. I’m going with Saints 31, Packers 24.
If you think that’s a severely optimistic prediction, you’re dead wrong. That’s the Angry Who Dat's special brand of cynical pessimism. We get a win this weekend because I, like many Saints fans, am looking for a reason to just give up and look for some humor in all this. A few are already there. Not me. This, a 7-point win over Green Bay, in Green Bay, is precisely what it would take to suck me back in and make me start hoping for a successful season. Even a playoff run.
There’s one thing the Saints do well as an organization when they can’t do anything else right. They encourage the delusion.
That’s my prediction for the weekend. The Saints will encourage the delusion.