Daily Special, June 27, 2012
11 Posted on June 27th, 2012 by Himself
Here’s good news: today we get to discuss Drew Brees instead of Bountygate. So let’s find out what Drew thinks about Bountygate.
We’ll get to that in a minute. But first, “I would never sit out a football season.” That was the blockbuster statement the Brees made on ESPN’s Outside the Lines Tuesday.
“I would never sit out a football season. I love the game too much. I love my team too much. But obviously, there’s a lot that can happen between now and then. So, let’s just hope we can get a long-term deal done.”
That sounds like great news…but what does it mean? Bradley Handwerger opines that what might sound like a PR gaffe is actually a deliberate PR play. I’m not ready to go that far, because I still can’t see that Brees stands to get anything out of it in terms of salary negotiations. But I think Handwerger is onto something when he suggests Brees is in a no-lose situation. This probably means that Drew is satisfied with the current Saints offer as a fall-back position. He’s still waiting for the outcome of the grievance hearing on his salary cap status, which happens…um, today; if it goes his way, he can use that as leverage for more money out of the Saints. But if he goes against him–and it will–he has an offer he’s already satisfied with under the circumstances.
So when he says he won’t sit out, he means he’ll be playing under contract, not under the tag. And that means this could all be over by the end of this week. And what a relief that would be.
Especially to Mickey Loomis. This is surely the offseason from Hell for poor Mickey, who has done a magnificent job with free agency, but can’t finalize the roster—can’t even start signing draft picks—until Drew signs and he knows how much money he has left. Meanwhile, Brees’ camp has unleashed a particularly low tactic: they’ve asked the league to investigate whether the Saints are “acting in good faith” in the negotiations. Seems Drew Brees is a big union guy, and maybe the Saints are holding that against him.
Gimme a break. Mickey wants to live, okay? Brees will be signed the instant Brees says “yes” to an offer. And then, the rookie contracts will fall like dominoes. It all hinges on Drew, and he, Condon, and the NFLPA all know it. I thought better of Drew than to try something like this.
Now, on to Bountygate. Brees has been front and center in defense of the players and coaches. He told Dan Patrick “I’ve been informed a lot of those coaches feel there are further sanctions being held over their head if they don’t cooperate with the investigation. If they were to speak out on behalf of the players, maybe that’s the fear they have.”
Entirely reasonable. That explains why Payton is keeping such a low profile. It doesn’t explain why Joe Vitt has been in Roger Goodell’s face over the latest evidence leaks. Politely, but still in his face. I’m liking Vitt more and more. He might wind up being a lousy game manager, but he’s sure going to have the loyalty of this team.
But Brees went farther than that with the accusations:
“Have I been told that some of the statements that were supposedly released have been said by the coaches were actually statements that were actually drawn up and manufactured by the NFL and then basically put out there as their words?” Brees asked. “Yes. If that’s the case, that’s unfortunate. It makes them sound like they’re trying to manufacture something, fabricate it or hide the truth and the facts.”
“To this point, none of us have seen any proof that would justify the punishment or show that there was indeed a pay-to-injure scheme going on,” Brees said. “I think they’ve tried to confuse the issue by combining pay-to-injure with pay-for-performance, which are obviously two very different things. These are heinous accusations.”
This might not sound like much, but it’s potentially a very big deal. I’ve written before–yesterday, in fact–that the statements released by Payton and Williams were very carefully crafted to avoid any actual admission that the NFL’s accusations were true. They were, in effect, non-denial denials. So if those statements were actually crafted by the league, that would constitute strong evidence of malice–playing right into the hands of Jonathan Vilma and any other players who choose to file suit against Roger Goodell or the league.
And all it would take to prove it would be the testimony of the coaches involved…who aren’t really big Roger Goodell fans right about now. Eh, probably a pipe dream, but this trip seems so real!
The NFL, predictably, trotted out Reichsminister für Propaganda Greg Aiello:
We completely disagree. The evidence is overwhelming that the Saints conducted a prohibited pay-for-performance/bounty program for three seasons that offered rewards to players if an opponent was “carted off” or “knocked out” with an injury. The investigation was thorough and includes statements from multiple sources with first-hand knowledge about the details of the program, corroborating documentation and other evidence. The enforcement of the bounty rule is important to protect players that are put at risk by this kind of scheme. Certainly, Drew Brees would not want to be the target in a bounty scheme and that is why we must eliminate bounties from football.
This, despite numerous attempts from numerous sources saying the same thing: that terms such as “cart-off” and “knockout,” not to mention “kill the head,” were simply hyperbole…kinda like “jacked up,” but that term is probably trademarked by now. It serves to demonstrate all over again what many apologists for the Saints have been saying for months: this is an argument over rhetoric.
And Greg Romeus is still the property of the Saints. Maybe next year.
On the Jukebox
No particular reason. This doesn’t tie in with anything, but then again…it’s Peter Gabriel. Who needs a better reason?