Arthur Blank has admitted that the Atlanta Falcons cheated, albeit ineffectually, during their home games over the past couple of seasons. And Cleveland Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam has admitted GM Ray Farmer was illegally texting down to the sideline during games. Yet neither of these cases has been resolved.
Neither has the latest New England scandal, regarding allegations that the Patriots were illegally deflating footballs in order to make them easier to be thrown and caught. And according to their head coach Bill Belichick, there won't even be testimony offered for an investigation until next month.
So why the delay? Perhaps NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been waiting for the right combination of distraction and delay, and is hoping to fall back on the Saints organization to be his trusty smokescreen.
The NFL has reportedly learned that several members of the New Orleans Saints have participated in a practice which was referred to within the organization as "Greasing the Poles." Furthermore, the league discovered upon initial inquiry that involvement in this questionable practice goes beyond just the locker room; as several support personnel have also been named as being complicit in this modification of equipment.
Saints veteran Thomas Morstead sees no need for disciplinary action from the league, though teammates named in the allegations have named the punter as already having dealt his own personal form of judgment for their actions. Some of the Saints players who are known to have taken part include: Zach Strief, Kenny Stills, Terron Armstead, Austin Johnson, Bryce Harris and Ryan Griffin. Griffin, a young quarterback out of Tulane University in New Orleans, claims that he never actually applied any grease to any poles, though sources confirm that he was caught on tape holding the ladder for another (as-yet unidentified) individual who was clearly applying a foreign substance to an upright post.
The team's front office has attempted to deflect the league's attention from the matter at hand, claiming that "greasing the poles" is nothing new, and not something for which the Saints should be targeted. Despite claims that the practice isn't limited to the New Orleans Saints, Morstead hasn't yet specifically named any others who are commonly known to have been a part of such practices in the past. However, the punter is adamant that NFL executives should not persecute the team for something that is known to be a practice which extends well beyond the Saints organization.
Regardless of who has actually participated in wrongdoing, within the Saints organization or beyond, Saints fans have learned in the past that Roger Goodell cares more about accusations and convenience than about truth and equal justice. "In a league where competitive fairness and player safety are paramount," the judge and executioner claims, "there is no room for players who conspire to modify equipment to gain an unfair advantage, especially at the expense of another player's ability to perform safely at the highest level."
Head Coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis were unavailable for comment.
It could be another long offseason for Saints fans.
More information is available on the team's website.