There’s a phrase my mother uses when someone slights her, “Payback is hell and I’m a firm believer in overkill”. I’ve heard that exact saying several times throughout my lifetime and that same phrase popped into my head when I read today on twitter that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would not be reinstating the New Orleans Saints their 2013 2nd round pick.
By not re-instating the Saints 2nd rounder, Goodell has crossed over from stern father to drunk dad. He’s no longer ruling his house with a fair but firm hand but instead has come stumbling in the door with an empty beer bottle and smacked his kid across the head with it.
Before due process could even be administered, the man who sits on the throne of the NFL decreed that the Saints should receive unprecedented punishment for the perceived sin of installing and maintaining a “pay-for-injury” program, i.e. a bounty program. Only after New Orleans had their head coach suspended for a year, general manager suspended for the first eight games, interim head coach suspended for the first six games, the franchise fined $500,000, a 2012 and 2013 second round draft pick docked, their starting middle linebacker suspended for a year, and starting defensive end suspended for the first four games did due process begin to unfold.
It was these punishments that set the tone for the 2012 New Orleans Saints. Peripheral fallout thus ensued. Drew Brees, one of the elite NFL quarterbacks, saw one of his few remaining years of his prime wasted. One of the more competitive teams in the NFL toiled below .500, only becoming average once this season. Perhaps the last year of long time Saints defensive end Will Smith in a New Orleans uniform was squandered. Finally, with each poor showing the crowds at Saints game dwindled.
While the Saints season sputtered, the proceedings themselves devoloped into a comedy of errors with sport’s worst commissioner being embarrassed with an endless parade of lies and hypocritical statements that the NFL’s equally embarrassing PR machine has tirelessly mouth-breathed. The latest bungled attempt was that of the commissioner extending a tainted olive branch in the form of reinstating Sean Payton, the suspended Saints head coach, two weeks before his mandated forced absence was to end.
The timing was particularly curious with Payton’s reinstatement coming two weeks before the Super Bowl. Maybe it was the threat of having his food contaminated with ipecac while he was in New Orleans or maybe it was his likeness portrayed in some compromising situations during the raucous Krewe du Vieux Mardi Gras parade that inclined Goodell to reinstate Payton before his benevolence descended onto the Crescent City.
No matter, the NFL PR machine once again churned out what equated to bird cage lining with its story on how Goodell should be praised as a hero for helping save New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. In the article, the controversial Times-Picayune writer Jeff Duncan compares Paul Tagliabue to the head coach with Roger Goodell being his quarterback. He goes on to describe how well Goodell did his job as Tagliabue’s “quarterback”, meaning it was Goodell’s job to do what he was sent to do.
This is regardless of the fact of the PR windfall which would have equaled Katrina should the Saints have relocated to Los Angeles like the NFL wanted in the midst of such a catastrophic natural disaster. Roger Goodell helped keep the Saints in New Orleans and, for the most part, anyone who was a part of the Katrina clean-up effort in and around New Orleans were treated with even more hospitality and gratitude than New Orleanians already extend to tourists.
However, just because a man helped you rebuild your own does not mean he should punch you in the face after it was hit by a tornado. And then punch you with the other fist after the house has been fixed.
That’s what Goodell is doing by not reinstating the Saints 2nd round pick. The punishments have been served even if they did not meet the crime. It has been a year, a forgettable one in the mind of every Saints fan, and all affiliated in any way with the organization just want to move on. By not offering the 2013 2nd round draft pick as a final olive branch Saints fans, especially, will have a particularly difficult time moving on.
The wound that had begun to heal will be re-opened and the memory of last year refreshed. A full compliment of draft picks would mean tons to the fans and the front office. It would be the right thing to do if Goodell is as benevolent as he would like to think.