Many years ago, my wife and I were watching “The McLaughlin Group,” and they were discussing the fall of communism in eastern Europe, and how long it might take for the same thing to happen in Russia. The answers from the panel went something like, “Oh, that’s not gonna happen. Not in our lifetimes, anyway.” I turned to my wife and said, “By this time next year.”
I was right. (Barely: Lithuania’s declaration of independence happened a year later, and that was the beginning of the actual breakup.)
My reasoning was this: no matter how solid it might look from the outside, communism was a rotten house. Kick out the props, and the whole thing would collapse almost instantly.
Bountygate is a rotten house. There’s nothing at all behind the façade, and when it falls apart it will happen suddenly, overnight. And already there are people gathering with sledgehammers.
Mike Freeman (MIKE FREEMAN!!) has an article on CBS Sports (h/t to Dave) in which he still manages to draw the wrong conclusion, but does present us with some highly interesting facts. Go there now, if you haven’t already been. He—out of all the journalists out there that might have thought of doing this (forgive me, I’m still boggled)—interviewed actual Saints players, and to a man (apparently) they were outraged. “Everyone in the bounty case is being railroaded,” is a typical quote. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
There’s a post on BlackAndGold.com that links to several examples of media pushback—from heavyweights like the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun. More and more people are noticing, and more and more are demanding the NFL release its evidence. Not that their demands have any authority; but the media thinks it has authority, and when it gets ignored by a powerful institution it gets very, very testy. And starts to dig. And usually, when it unites around a single project, its target winds up going down. Because the targets only think the media doesn’t have authority.
Anyway, this isn’t the end. It’s not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
In other news:
The Saints remain upbeat, despite the absence of Drew Brees. Chase Daniel will be getting a lot of reps with the first team until Drew returns. Which might—just might, please God no—come in handy sometime later in the season. If Daniel needs to become The Man at any time next season, let’s hope he responds like Jeff Hostetler and not like Curtis Painter.
Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper talked about the start of OTAs and learning a new defense. Without exactly criticizing Gregg Williams, Harper zeroed in on exactly the problems that plagued the Saints the last two years:
“It’s totally different,” Harper said. “There are a lot more eyes on the ball, not as much (man-on-man defense), and (we’re) just trying to make plays on the ball. I’m looking forward to it. We’re still going to pressure. We’re still going to get after the quarterback like we did. The more we’ll get to work with it, the more comfortable we’ll be with it.”
Bobby Hebert interviewed Darren Sharper, who minced no words: “I don’t think he has any evidence. I don’t think he has any concrete evidence that can give him reason to suspend a guy for a whole year.”
Pro Football Weekly, which must be desperate to say something good about the Saints without disavowing their fealty to Lord Goodell, has a silly “article” posing the question: who has the better offense, the Giants or the Saints? Why the Giants? Why not the Packers or the Patriots, some team known and widely feared for its offensive prowess? Who knows? Anyway, the vote was 9-0. I’ll let you go find out who won.
Greg Lloyd still hates quarterbacks, but he has a point: instead of wussifying football to try to eliminate the possibility of lawsuits, just take better care of retired players instead of kicking them to the curb when they’re no longer useful. I don’t think the NFL has any responsibility for the bad fortune of its highly-paid volunteers…but that doesn’t mean they can’t take an interest in their welfare. It’s called human decency. Nothing’s stopping them. But Goodell needs to find a way to suspend Lloyd, fast: “I want to see somebody hit a quarterback … that is what people come to see. And at the end of the day if he gets hurt, so be it.”