Before we all crucify Saints linebacker Junior Galette on the cross of internet videos and public opinion, let's take a deep breath. First, is it really him brutally hitting a woman with a belt on a video that recently surfaced on the internet? Galette's lawyer claims it isn't, despite our own Dave Cariello going all "CSI Canal Street Chronicles" with some masterful studies here and here of some of the video's stills, that seem to confirm that the man on the tape is more than likely one Junior Jovais Galette.
The question now is: if the man on the video is indeed Galette, what should the Saints do? Our primal reaction is to yell: cut him! Feed him to the pigs! Send him to the Falcons! But is that really what the Saints should do as a business based on winning football games and not exactly based on morals?
Let me go into a bit of a hypothetical scenario here: Let's say that Galette is unequivocally found to be the man on the video, gets suspended half a season by the league and four additional games by the Saints. Then on December 6 against the Carolina Panthers in game 13 of the season, he comes in and records three sacks, a fumble recovery and the Saints win 23-20, taking control of the NFC South. Will you not root for the Saints that day? Let me answer that for you: you will. You will jump off your seat and scream as Galette is dragging Cam Newton into the turf of the Mercedes Benz Superdome for a drive and game-ending sack.
But right now, many of you are probably taking the moral high ground with statements like: "no way, the Saints should release him now, they can't condone his behavior!" I understand the initial reaction, but the only reason the Saints should release Junior Galette right now in my opinion, is if they are certain they can recoup some of the money they currently owe him and not take a huge cap hit.
Don't get me wrong: hitting people is bad. I actually contend that we should stop thinking that it's worse if it's a woman, simply because of our society's accepted notion that women are physically inferior, or because of some primeval sense of macho honor. Is it more acceptable to hit a weaker man? But I digress and that's clearly a piece for another day.
Galette is very likely a bad dude. But why exactly do we all want him off the Saints right now? Was he not a bad guy before this video surfaced? Is it because we'd feel better losing with good guys that winning with bad guys? Or is it because now we "truly know" that he is a bad guy and can't live with the guilt of cheering for him?
How many other players have done pretty bad things in their own time that are still playing for your team and my team and we simply don't know about their character? Way more than we'd like to admit! This video was apparently shot two years ago; that's the time we were all marveling at Galette's breakout year as the Saints had a top 10 ranked defense and won their first-ever road playoff game. Now if we knew all the bad things our favorite athletes do and wanted all of them off our teams, there wouldn't be enough players left to play sports in America.
Bad guys who are also talented players always get more chances. Is it fair? No it's not, but neither is life. If you ran a business, you would likely give a bit more rope to your best employees if they were late to meetings. And before you tell me that "being late doesn't exactly compare to hitting people," let me know if your business pays people tens of millions of dollars and attracts millions of viewers worldwide. Context matters.
What's more, talented players that are also mega-expensive will get even more leeway. According to Spotrac.com, Junior Galette is due to make $1,250,000 in base salary in 2015, and his cap hit is $5,450,000. His dead money value is what hurts the Saints the most: $16,200,000. This means that if the Saints decide to release Galette right away, they will have to "eat" $10,750,000.
Once Galette isn't as expensive as he is anymore and/or the quality of his play on the field seriously dips, the Saints likely won't hesitate to get rid of him and they'll be right to do so. However, given that the troubled outside linebacker's performance as a football player is based on being mean, aggressive and on hitting people on the field, as long as New Orleans thinks that Galette can help them win games, the team will probably let the league deal with him and yet keep him on the roster.
Despite all of our societal moralistic views of how athletes should behave off the field, coaches are paid to try and win games first and foremost. In the case of Junior Galette, my opinion is that the Saints should let the NFL deal with him, maybe discipline him themselves as well, yet keep him on the roster. That's unless they can find a way to not have to pay him $10,750,000 to go sack quarterbacks for someone else.
Does thinking this way make me a bad guy or just a realistic one? Let's talk about it.