Musings on the Life and Times of Sean Payton

Who is Sean Payton? The man? The father? The husband? The coach? The friend? The human being?

These are questions that very few may have the answers to. The man who eloquently describes his players’ injuries as a “hand” or “a knee” has given the public the same descriptions of his life. Can’t blame him.

The story as it has been told to us:

  • College QB
  • Scab NFL QB
  • NFL Assistant
  • Parcells disciple and OC
  • Head Coach of the league’s most beleaguered franchise
  • NFC Championship appearance in year one
  • Superbowl winner
  • Steals Jerrah Jones’ wine
  • Vicodin scandal
  • The family moves back to Dallas
  • Bountygate
  • Banned from the league and football in general
  • Files for divorce from his wife of 20 years

So that’s the narrative. Leaves lots of questions to be asked in the stories we read between the lines.

Read Payton’s book? Heard the story about his post-Superbowl presser? Sleeping with the Lombardi? Peanut butter and sand for 3G before the game? Bats in the playoffs? See that fleur de fucking lis up there? White ball!? White ball!?

We all have nothing but the fondest memories of our saints fandom because of Sean Payton. The man, coach, leader, icon.

Has it been a fall from grace? Or is it something that has been in the works for a while? In this fan’s opinion it has been neither. Coach was a victim of circumstance. Could or should he have been more vigilant in either stopping or covering up what has caused him to lose his job and reputation? Probably. But then he wouldn’t be Sean “We Make the Damn Rules” Payton.”

Does this mean the end of our coach and all that has made him the man he has been to all Saints players and fans alike? If you think so, go root for the (lowercase f) falcons. If Drew Brees (hey, Drew? Sign the damn contract already!) and the rest of his players and coaches have anything to say about it, they’re going to win the whole God damned thing for Payton. If there was ever a man in a position to absorb a blow like this, it is Sean Payton. Just look at the way he has handled his players from the little that we have seen. He made Reggie Bush a team player for God’s sake. He made Scott Fujita worthy of being recruited after the Superbowl by the Cleveland Browns for much more than he was worth because he enabled Scott to be a leader in a way that the Cowboys stymied. When many coaches would have been done with Robert Meachem and his first round draft position after the first few years, Payton coddled him and motivated him and plugged him into the system to get the most out of his strengths and limited his weaknesses. Post-Superbowl Vicodin scandal…not a peep. Suspended without pay for the entire 2012 season, he goes and plays with Jimmy Buffet and Grace Potter an the Nocturnals.

Even in his absence legitimate defensive stars have come to play for the New Orleans Saints — Sean Payton’s New Orleans Saints. You know what? You get what you paid for. Sean Payton is what we paid for. All of it. The rocking out with Kenny Chesney, driving local sports reporters to become drug addicts who lose their jobs, making people like Jeffrey Duncan hate him and the city’s team so much that he is eating up this bountygate crap and asking for seconds, making Belichick pull his starters out of embarrassment, being the overall arrogant prick that alienates everyone in the league all the way to the top and a guy who hangs out with guys like Mike Ornstein. He gets the job done and he has had no qualms about doing things his way. From the janitor (get your kicks on that one) to the ticket reps to the secretaries and on and on and on. He has made Tom Benson more money off of this team than Benson ever could have imagined and will continue to do so until he decides he’d rather spend his time touring with Jimmy Buffet, smoking doobies, playing the bongos and singing about pirates at forty.

For the six years that Payton has been the head coach of the Saints he has made something out of nothing. Look at the pre-Payton Saints if you need a refresher on what it means to be nothing. He recruited high character guys — players and coaches — to create what has been a consistent force to be reckoned with in a division, conference, and league that is always getting better. Listen to what Vitt has had to say about the man he has been forced to take over for. Listen to Drew talk about the bond between himself and his head coach. Listen to any player or coach who has worked with and grown to love Payton (with the exception of Mike Cerullo [by the way, Mike, how do you disappear the night before the Superbowl?] and others who couldn’t hack it in a Sean Payton run universe) and you’ll hear nothing but a resounding applause for the man who has lifted them all to a level of excellence that not many men can accomplish.

Is there any reason to think that his staff will not be able to carry the torch in his absence? Lots of fans have their doubts, but not this Who Dat. The only staff changes that have been made this offseason are on the defensive side of the ball, where we all knew they had to be made. One more send the house blitz while protecting the lead (you know what this video is of, no need to torture yourself by watching it…) in the opponents own territory and none of us would have televisions left to watch.

So, if Payton’s year hadn’t been crappy enough already, his marriage has also withered into the abyss of broken dreams. But you know what? That’s none of my business. Shit happens. And it happens to the best of us. Does it make him less of a man or a father? In the opinion of the product of divorced parents, here’s a resounding go fly a kite” if you think so. If there is one thing I have learned from Sean Payton and the way he runs his team, it is that perseverance in the face of adversity is what makes you the man that you are. Whether or not doing the Bernie with random girls on the dance floor in the Bahamas is “perseverance” is not for me to say. Should he be sitting all alone in time out wondering why all this is happening to him? He can do that between jaunts in the Caribbean telling vidographers they’re “#1” and planning revenge on The Shield. Go get ’em coach!

Anyone else ready for the Hall of Fame Game like they’re ready for the Presidential election to get here so we can just know what we’ve got and work with it?

You know you are.

Who Dat!

The Saints Start Summer Vacation

FOOTBALL

Greg Romeus is out

Chase Daniel has a thumb.

The Saints are still awesome whenever Drew signs.

And that’s it…for actual football related Saints news. Awesome, right?

EVERYTHING ELSE

Moving on to bounties, suspensions, scandals, lawyers, commissioners, unions and all kinds of shit that can’t be avoided when it comes to the New Orleans Saints and the state of the team this offseason.

First things first. Personally, I don’t care about the coaches’ or the payers’ suspensions anymore. I’m over it. I have accepted them as definite and did so quite some time ago. The Saints are still a dangerous team. Possibly more dangerous than they were last year. According to media reports from mini camp, they are definitely more focused than ever.

So, remember when the player suspensions were handed out? And the statement from the NFL outlining each player’s offenses? Let’s take a look at it:

Under Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement and the standard NFL player contract, a player is subject to discipline by the commissioner for conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL. The discipline imposed today for such detrimental conduct is as follows:


-Scott Fujita (now of the Cleveland Browns) is suspended for the first three games of the 2012 regular season. The record established that Fujita, a linebacker, pledged a significant amount of money to the prohibited pay-for-performance/bounty pool during the 2009 NFL playoffs when he played for the Saints. The pool to which he pledged paid large cash rewards for “cart-offs” and :knockouts,” plays during which an opposing player was injured.


-Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (now with the Green Bay Packers) is suspended without pay for the first eight games of the 2012 regular season. Hargrove actively participated in the program while a member of the Saints. Hargrove submitted a signed declaration to the league that established not only the existence of the program at the Saints, but also that he knew about it and participated in it. The evidence showed that Hargrove told at least one player on another team that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was a target of a large bounty during the NFC Championship Game in January of 2010. Hargrove also actively obstructed the league’s investigation into the program by being untruthful to investigators.


-Will Smith of the Saints is suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2012 regular season. Smith, a defensive end, assisted Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in establishing and funding the program during a period in which he was a captain and leader of the defensive unit. Multiple independent sources also confirmed that Smith pledged significant sums to the program pool for “cart-offs” and “knockouts” of opposing players.


-Linebacker Jonathan Vilma of the Saints is suspended without pay for the 2012 NFL season, effective immediately per league policy for season-long suspensions. The investigation concluded that while a captain of the defensive unit, Vilma assisted Coach Williams in establishing and funding the program. Multiple independent sources also confirned that Vilma offered a specific bounty — $10,000 in cash — to any player who knocked Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner out of the 2009 Divisional Playoff Game and later pledged the same amount to anyone who knocked Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship Game the following week (played on January 24, 2010). Vilma is eligible to be reinstated after the Super Bowl in 2013.


The evidence conclusively demonstrated that from 2009-2011 Saints players of their own accord pledged significant amounts of their own money towards bounties, that players accepted payments for “cart-offs” and “knockouts” of injured opposing players, and that the payout amounts doubled and tripled in playoff games.


So, let’s look at the record of what was presented yesterday. If you haven’t seen the evidence presented or the annotated explanation by the union, you can look at it here. It will hurt your neck. You’ve been warned.

In the above statement I underlined certain points that seem to have been the basis for suspensions that were not shown in the evidence presented to the players yesterday. Go back and look at the games, the records presented (which havven’t been authenticated and were “transcribed.” I mean, does no one at the NFL offices know how to use a scanner?) and ask yourself if these reasons stated as to why the players were suspended were shown in the supporting evidence of their suspensions. I saw lots of stuff that had nothing whatsoever to do with any payments for anything and about 5 pages that could be considered relevant to the suspensions (if the transcriptions are accurate and the documents transcribed authenticated). It is obvious to me why the suspended players wanted coaches, teammates, and team personnel available at the appeal to testify as to the authenticity of some evidence, give context to some, and provide exculpatory evidence as well. The majority of the NFL’s statement was not supported by the evidence presented. Roger Goodell was quoted as saying that the evidence presented yesterday was all they had on the four suspended players. Moron.

One thing is clear: The NFL thinks they can do no wrong and that they have these players by the balls. In a sense they are right. These suspensions are going to be upheld, but that isn’t going to change the perception that people have of the commissioner and this investigation in its entirety.

In the transcription of the pledges of the Vikings game (where’s the ledger for the Arizona game?) it shows Vitt contributing $5,000. How was Vitt not accused of doing this and not suspended longer than 6 games if this is true? Vitt’s lawyer says that he was never charged with contributing to this pool and doesn’t understand why it would come out now that he did. If the NFL had proof that Joe Vitt had indeed contributed any amount of money towards putting Brett Favre on a stretcher, don’t you think they would have done something a little more about it?

This too is AWESOME

AWESOME

Read PFT’s transcript of the morning session from yesterday’s appeals? Do it. It will make you feel better. Two great and relevant quotes from the article:

“We have, in fact, engaged in a thorough investigation.  It has been [stymied] in part, sir, because you haven’t issued gag orders to people with evidence, former coaches, people with [the] New Orleans Saints, you had made threats to keep them from talking, you have refused to have them even participate in today’s proceedings, but nonetheless, Commissioner Goodell, we have talked to dozens of people, literally dozens of people regarding your allegations.  We have spend months gathering information and we have compared that information to your descriptions, your public descriptions. . . .  But in preparing with what you have accused Mr. Vilma with the information that we have gathered, we have found the following, Commissioner Goodell.”


“You have taken words that Gregg Williams used, colorful words like cart-offs and wax and [kill the head] and have chosen publicly to distort the meaning of those words notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Williams and others ha told you that those terms in no way relate to illegal hits or any bounty program that you have decided, sir, to misrepresent what those words, in fact, mean,” Ginsberg said.

Ginsberg also cites “substantial evidence” that Williams and former Saints assistant (and suspected whistleblower) Mike Cerullo “retracted directly and affirmatively and without equivocation any claims they have previously made about a bounty program,” explaining that the league has not disclosed those retractions.


Holy shit! Right? If these accusations are true, Roger Goodell better hope that none of this ever gets in front of an actual judge because, in my honest opinion, putting him into a situation where someone has authority OVER HIM could prove to be catastrophic for him as the commissioner of the NFL. Sure, the CBA grants him unlimited power and authority in investigations and gives him the right to punish as he sees fit, but it doesn’t give him the right to misconstrue the facts of his investigations to publicly damage the reputations of all involved so that no one will even question his investigations and their merits in the first place.



Adam Schefter was on Mike and Mike this morning saying that it’s obvious that there was a pay-for-performance program, but not necessarily a pay-to-injure program. And he’s right. Something doesn’t add up. This thing has stunk since the get go and with every day that passes and more “evidence” gets released, it stinks even more.

LETTING GO


As I stated earlier, I have accepted the punishments handed out for the Saints. I really don’t think it will be all that big of a deal. I have let go of the anger I felt when Sean Payton was suspended for they year and have embraced the role we have been given. It is obvious to me that the 2012 New Orleans Saints are going to have to fight tooth and nail for every single yard they gain both on the field and in the press and that the hard work and determined effort they put in will pay off in the Dome come February.

Who Dat, bitches!