When you desert your post at the beginning of a new campaign, there’s a tendency to have to play some catch-up when you return. Especially when you’re a technophobic hermit with a serious case of burnout and other things to worry about. Yet we persevere.
That’s just my way of saying there’s a bunch of stuff out there right now. Wang and Odd (awd…”angry who dat,” get it? Best I could do, sue me), who are now the starting cornerbacks in addition to being excellent bloggers, each have analyses of the Saints’ gloriously epic victory in the year’s most meaningless game.
Andrew Juge, on the other hand, doesn’t have anything because…what the hell happened? Where’s SaintsNation? I go to the link in my own sidebar, and I wind up at “Bloguin!” They want to tell me what I missed on the premier of Hard Knocks. And the Seahawks quarterback competition. And the Olympics. And baseball. And hockey. Wtf? Andrew?
Then there’s actual news, like Johnny Patrick getting injured. Luckily we have Wang. But what happens if he gets carpal tunnel? Who goes in, me? Dave? Stu? This cornerback thing is starting to look ominous…for everyone else. Because the last time this happened, and we had to sign guys off the street, we only won a Super Bowl. And that was during the season. So I’m not panicking yet, much. I hope.
And there’s a bunch of stuff on Vilma, but here’s the best: ESPN’s Johnette Howard not only rips into Goodell, she even understands the Saints!
The Saints’ franchise and many followers are riding outrage of biblical proportion. The suspended players and coaches are being treated as martyrs in New Orleans — especially Payton — and to expect anything less of a fan base in a state that has long set vivid new standards for political chicanery was probably naïve all along. The team has decided the best way to make bricks out of straw in this whole unsettled mess is to channel their righteous indignation into an angry crusade that starts right now, right here in training camp, and goes something like this: If you thought bounties made us a scourge of the league before, you haven’t seen anything yet.
That’s rare enough. But she also raises a good point, which hasn’t been raised enough, which is: why did Goodell wait so long to punish the Saints if their behavior was truly heinous? Why did Goodell ban Sean Payton for a year in 2012 for stuff that allegedly was known about in 2010?
But there’s something else that is rarely raised, too, and here I’m afraid I’m going to go all Mike Godwin on you. That’s right: it’s time for a Nazi analogy, but not the one you think.
No, I’m not talking about Roger Goodell, here. I’m talking about the fans. The other fans: in Minnesota, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Seattle, wherever, who just shrug and say things like “the Saints are crybaby cheaters, they got caught, they should take it like a man,” etc. etc. ad nauseum. (Oh, wait…that was Stu.)
To quote Mr. Wang: welp. Turns out Poland got caught too. Did you know that Germany invaded Poland in retaliation for a Polish attack on the radio station in Gleiwitz? True. The Germans even produced a dead Pole to prove it, although his name wasn’t Vilma. Now, maybe being bombed flat and occupied for five years is too harsh a sanction…maybe Germany should have reduced Poland’s penalty to, say, a year’s occupation, and cut the bombing in half. Clearly an overreaction on their part, but let’s not pretend the Poles are innocent here.
Except, of course, they were. It was a complete put-up job…and to the world’s credit, it was the last straw. World War II and all that, and Hitler ended his days in a smoking jacket (and pants). Because the world came to its senses, recognized a trend, and decided to put a stop to it. After the reoccupation of the Rhineland, the Anschluss with Austria, the dismembering of Czechoslovakia, Starcaps, and Hitler’s private vendetta against James Harrison, it had become patently obvious that he recognized no limitations on his power. But before they could put a stop to his shenanigans, millions of people died, because
First they came for the Patriots,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Patriot.
Then they came for the Steelers,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Steeler.
Then they came for the Saints,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Saint.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
What’s important here is not what penalty might have been appropriate for the Saints, who were clearly guilty of something. What’s important is, How do you know the Saints are guilty of something? How do you know the NFL is telling the truth? Perhaps the Saints are just the “canned goods” in Operation Aiello. The NFL says they have proof; but so did Germany. And like Germany, they refused to show it. Dressing up a dead prisoner in a Polish uniform is roughly the same thing as making a typed transcription of trumped-up notes that nobody gets to see. Very roughly. Without any of the mortal sin part, but still…it’s wrong.
More than that: it’s inadequate. No matter what penalty Roger Goodell imposed on the Saints, his first responsibility was to the truth. And the big question facing NFL fans isn’t, are the penalties fair? It’s not even, is the NFL telling the truth? It’s, who’s next?
Another good question is, how do we stop this son of a bitch? And the answer to that, all you other NFL fans, is: you stop being intellectually lazy, drop the partisanship, take an objective look not only at the evidence in this case but also at the standard operating procedure throughout Goodell’s tenure, and you kick in. You say, “I hate the fucking Saints like death [you poor benighted clodpate], but if we don’t stop Goodell he’s going to destroy football.” And then you storm the beaches in Normandy.
Okay, I haven’t got this completely figured out yet. I’m willing to take suggestions, though.