A native of Craiova, Romania, Mihail Lumescu studied the magic arts at the famed academy of Neagramanze in the foothills of the Carpathians, during which time he rallied the local inhabitants in their successful resistance to the black sorcerer Voladon Turok, then moved to Kansas, where he changed his name to Mickey Loomis, entered Wichita State University, and was bitten by a radioactive ferret, conferring on him the ability to track down Pro Bowl talent in its hidden burrow and sign it, frothing and squealing, to a three-year, $13 million dollar contract.
That's about all I can think of to explain this offseason.
This wasn't supposed to happen. The Saints were supposed to be buried under contracts they could no longer afford. This was to be the year our senescent dynasty slammed into a bridge abutment, leaving us salary cap quadriplegics, rolling our eyes helplessly while the Bucs and Panthers wheeled us over to the piranha tank and Thomas Dimitroff chuckled and preened his cat.
The last thing we were supposed to do was get better.
Of course, the big story this offseason has been: Bountygate. (Original name, isn't it? Way to go, media.) So the work that Loomis has done getting the Saints ready for when actual football takes over the headlines has kinda gotten lost in the shuffle. In fact, at this point, I'm almost ready to believe this whole Bountygate thing was arranged by Payton and Loomis to cover up what they were about to do. Because while everyone was mesmerized by Roger Goodell's dazzling display of asshattery (“He almost looks lifelike, Ethel!”), PayLoo have quietly put together our next Super Bowl team. And nobody noticed.
We re-signed Marques Colston. The media yawned. We lost Carl Nicks; and while the media was snickering "Told you so!" we replaced him with Ben Grubbs. The media tried to yawn and choked on its tongue. We lost Robert Meachem and Tracy Porter, and before the media could do anything we signed away Chris Chamberlain from the Rams, Curtis Lofton from the Falcons, and David Hawthorne from the Seahawks—an entire new linebacking corps. Plus Broderick Bunkley. Our offense is mainly intact, and our defense is vastly improved, and we haven't even been to the draft yet.
Oh, almost forgot: we also lost our genius defensive coordinator, who escaped just before the ship blew up (but the escape pod blew up, too, so that's okay). And all we did was replace him with someone better. Nothing up our sleeves.
Still, there's a few things I'd like to know. First, why isn't anyone talking about all this? Outside of a few diehard Saints fans, the accepted narrative for this offseason is that it's shaping up exactly how the media called it earlier—catastrophe, but by an order of magnitude worse. Yes, it's been highly entertaining, as Grandmaster Wang pointed out elsewhere (if your idea of entertainment is a lynch mob the size of a nation-state, bitches). But in terms of success or failure, all the annointed experts would have you believe that the Saints have some climbing to do before they even reach the bottom rung.
Except—isn't that Mickey up there? Waving? Damn, looks like him. So maybe Mickey ain't the only one trying some misdirection. The fact is, despite the media narrative, and especially considering the context of doom and destruction, this has to be one of the all-time great offseason performances by a general manager. Which brings us to the next question: how in the hell did Mickey do it?
Well, why are we surprised? This is the man who hired Sean Payton, acquired Drew Brees, traded for Jonathan Vilma. And lest you forget, last year was also supposed to be a difficult offseason, and all we did was make a serious run at a championship. While other teams flounder and fizzle and decompose, the Saints just keep shifting into higher gears. (This is the Saints we're talking about? Yeah, I can't get used to it, either.) Everyone talks about "the business end" of professional sports like it's something necessary but lamentable…but it's our superiority at the business end that has turned the Saints from lame jokes into The Most Dangerous Team In The League. And there doesn't seem to be any sort of natural limit to it…until, that is, Mickey retires. He's the Drew Brees of the front office. I wish I could buy his jersey, because after watching this whole magic act I'm ready to believe Mickey Loomis could juggle rabid hyenas while shaving.
Which brings us, finally, to the biggest question of all: Could it all be an illusion? Because there is still that elephant on the stage, the one named Ch. Drew Brees' Contract Impasse, and the grand finale of Mickey's act will be to make it disappear. In fact, if the finale doesn't come off, the rest of the show will be seen as nothing but a bunch of lame card tricks. Let's face it: we came to not see the elephant. And it does worry me that maybe the reason Mickey is able to make all these bold moves is because he knows exactly how much money he's going to spend this season—and he only knows that because he has no intention of negotiating a new contract for Brees. The franchise tag figure is already plugged into the equation, and that's the way it is. That has me nervous.
But then I have to ask myself: why? This show isn't nearly over—in fact, it hasn't even reached the second act yet—and so far it's been epic. What the hell else can this team possibly do this offseason…hire Bill Parcells? And having come this far, how is it that some fans (like me) have so little faith that Mickey knows what he's doing, that everything is under control? The plan is unfolding according to plan. And part of that plan is to make it all look like a failure for as long as possible.
I don't know. But if this is what failure looks like, I want to know if I can find it on Amazon. I want more.