Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Saints Bid "Happy Trails" to Evans, Harper

The New Orleans Saints have announced that they have parted ways with several players most notably linebacker Troy Evans and punt returner-wide receiver Rod Harper.

Evans’s release was somewhat of a surprise as he was an active part of the Super Bowl championship team and served as special teams captain. Evans had been with the Saints three seasons after spending his first five in the league with the Houston Texans.

Beyond his play special teams play, Evans was a reserve linebacker and saw his most action on defense with the Saints this past season under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Evans started two games in 2009 after linebacker Scott Fujita was temporarily sidelined with an injury.

The teams’ struggling kick and punt return coverage and the emergence of second-year player Jonathan Cassillas as a starting linebacker to fill a hole left on the Saints’ 4-3 defense with Fujita’s departure to the Cleveland Browns as an unrestricted free agent in the off-season may have contributed to Evans’ unanticipated release.

Harper, who had an impressive pre-season in 2009 as a punt returner but spent most of the 2009 season on injured reserve, didn’t see much action in the 2010 preseason, a sign that the organization is satisfied with wide receiver/kick returner Courtney Roby, who was cut last season before being quickly re-signed.

The Saints have an embarrassment of riches for that role, with running back Reggie Bush and wide receiver Lance Moore serving as the team’s primary returners with cornerback Tracy Porter getting some practice at this spot in training camp as well. With tough decisions coming in at different roster positions in the next two weeks, the Saints likely did the pair a favor parting ways with them early so other teams could sign them.

In three other moves that were relatively less surprising, the team waived cornerback Danny Gorrer, guard Tim Duckworth and wide receiver Mark Bradley. Both Gorrer and Duckworth had spent time with the Saints’ practice squad between playing with other teams. Bradley, who had played for three other NFL teams in seven seasons, was brought in during training camp in 2010 as a free-agent.

NFL teams must trim their rosters to 75 players by August 31st and further reduce them to regular season maximum of 53 players by September 4th.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Roger That Minneapolis, the Ego Has Landed

Where was a British betting house when I needed one?

You can bet on practically anything across the pond, a statement backed up by the story of one gambler, Jon Matthews, who wagered in April 2006 that he would outlast the life expectancy given by his doctor after he was diagnosed with cancer caused by asbestos. Matthews went to a betting parlor and laid down 100 Pounds at 50 to 1 odds that he’d live to June 1, 2008.

Matthews made it and 5,000 Pounds. He put down another c-note (or whatever the Brit slang for it is) at the same odds and won another five-big after living another year. Mr. Matthews laid down another hundred but on his third wager he lost more than his 100 Pounds.

As soon as I heard of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre’s reported “tweet” about hanging up his “horns”, I should have put in a call to Ladbrokes (with whom I have a half-pound wager on a Two-Dat) to see if they’d give me odds on Favre pulling a “psyyyyche”.

Especially since I would have been willing to lay down a lot more than 50 pence on that proposition.

Without a doubt, Favre’s “return” (he was under contract for this season and had not filed paperwork ending his active status in the league) will add to the parade/festival extravaganza the NFL is planning for the Saints-Vikings regular season kickoff in the Superdome. Assuming Favre’s ankle has healed adequately and he is ready to play in body and mind.

Beyond his track record in this matter, I couldn’t help but think that the same man who takes so much delight in the speculation about his retirement could resist being a part of a nationally televised game in the very stadium where he threw the immaculate interception.

There’s no debating that Favre is both a legend on the field and quite the soap opera star off with his hemming and hawing about the conclusion his gridiron career. Conveniently, this posturing results in #4 avoiding the rigors of training camp. He’s also profited from his quibbling, appearing in a Sears commercial spoofing his indecision from last year.

It’s obvious that Favre relishes the attention and how with a few taps on his cell phone to a gullible sportswriter can shut down whatever lead story that ESPN and other sports networks were going to run that day. If Favre desired to add clarity to the media brouhaha, he could always put in a phone call to any radio station in the country.

Instead his silence in the midst of the frantic reports speaks volumes about his intentions. And perhaps his character as well.

When Favre does finally retire, he should take a page from running back Barry Sanders and quietly fax a press release to the local paper in Hattiesburg. I don’t think anyone is going to believe it until the season begins without him.

While visiting Milwaukee a few weeks ago, I stopped by the Harley-Davidson Museum mostly to see a special exhibition on the life (and natural death) of Evel Knievel. The famed daredevil that recklessly risked his life attempting stunts used to meticulously choreograph his performances, from what the announcer said to theatrical manner in which he would climb on to a vehicle. One of the scripts was on display.

Knievel was more showman than stuntman. Favre is an outstanding athlete but his showman-side has enveloped part of the legacy he toiled to establish primarily on Lambeau Field’s tundra.

Aside from how it affects the Saints, I don’t care about whether Favre retires this season or is retired by a possible lockout in the next. That would be the ultimate irony.

Favre is a special athlete and the game benefits from his participation so long as he continues to play like a champion defying the limits of age. However, the game doesn’t benefit from his retirement antics.

It’s unprofessional and it has to drive Vikings fans crazy…not that the Vikings haven’t driven this Saints fan nuts in the playoffs (the 2009 season excepted).

Favre owns many of football’s all-time great records and one all-time not so great record and while the Mississippian’s spot in Canton is assured, the image he leaves in the collective memory of the fans through his media tomfoolery will be chips in his Pro Football Hall of Fame bust.

Brett Favre has played the game better than all but a handful of quarterbacks. That can’t be said regarding the way he has attempted to leave it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

First Cleat Drops on Saints 2010 Season: Hamilton Out

And now things get interesting.

Before the first game of the season- scratch that- before the first snap of the PRE-season running back Lynell Hamilton is lost for 2010 after tearing his right ACL during a drill with the New England Patriots.

Just to clear up some of the gossip circulating on the internet, the Times Picayune’s James Varney reported that the Patriots did not lay a finger on Hamilton, who fell down in pain after running to the right side.

Just about 48 hours after Hamilton stood inside the White House in the presence of President Barack Obama, the young, powerful running back the Saints had enough faith in to let Mike Bell fly to Philadelphia as a restricted free-agent “ain’t dere no mo”.

The Saints’ “back up” is second-year re-signed free-agent P.J. Hill, who has had a decent training camp. And until/unless the Saints ink a veteran, Tiffin University product Chris Ivory, who signed with the team as a rookie free agent, now moves up from a likely spot on the practice squad to the temporary fourth running back slot.

The Saints had worked out Justin Fargas, a seven veteran that was released by the Oakland Raiders for allegedly failing his physical (think Al Davis saving a $1,700,000.00 bonus), though the son of the actor that played Huggy Bear from the 1970s television show Starsky and Hutch is no longer an option as he signed with the Denver Broncos on Wedenday, according to the Denver Post.

The Post reported that the Oakland franchise’s owner’s staff might have been incorrect in their assessment of Fargas, as he passed Denver’s physical. Yes, I am being sarcastic. What’s no joke are the running back problems the Broncos have been experiencing with both Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter nursing injuries.

Another running back the Saints had expressed an interest in was Ladell Betts, who Saints fans might remember with some consternation for the 119 yards he accumulated against the Black and Gold in their game against the Washington Redskins in 2006.

Betts played sparingly against the Saints in the 2008 game at FedEx Field and suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Dallas Cowboys two weeks before the Saints salvaged their seemingly lost unbeaten streak in Andover.

With Hamilton out, the Saints’ interest in Betts has risen to a new high while starting running back Pierre Thomas’s bargaining position for a better contract has improved.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Honoring the Architect of New Orleans' "House of Dave"

Dave Dixon isn’t a household name, even in a community where he would ultimately have a longer and a more positive legacy than most of its mayors.

Until his recent passing, Dixon’s name might be recalled by attendees whose eyes wandered during boring moments at Saints games from the 2008 season (there were no boring moments in the Superdome during the 2009 Saints season).

There up in rafters hangs the most least known name of the handful of banners honoring Louisiana’s greatest sports figures: the Jazz’s “Pistol Pete”, Grambling’s “Coach Eddie”, the Saints’ “Archie Who” and the Black and Gold’s two inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In lieu of a team logo, there is a picture of the Superdome is near Dixon’s name. It’s an appropriate symbol of the late sports promoter’s greatest affiliation.

Oddly enough, his name came up in a conversation I had with some Lake Charles sports reporters at Saints training camp when one of them asked for a good reference on Saints history aside from the latest edition of the team’s media guide. I suggested that they pick up a copy of The Saints The Superdome and The Scandal, which is as much a biography of the stadium as it is an autobiography of its author.

I had only met Dixon once. Again oddly enough, it was at a funeral.

While waiting in line to pay my respects to the deceased (a person of prominence in the area), I saw a bald, elderly man working the line as if he was running for office. At first I thought he was a relative of the “man of the hour” but from three mourners away I learned that he was indeed THE Dave Dixon. He confirmed it upon reaching out to shake this stranger’s hand to introduce himself.

I don’t pass this anecdote along as a slight on the most recently deceased: I assume such habits are those of a natural born promoter.

And when considering his greatest achievement and what it took to make the concept into a reality, a natural introvert would not have gotten the job done.

While it was political arm twisting by Congressman Hale Boggs and US Senator Russell Long in the corridors of the Capitol that helped secure New Orleans an expansion franchise, it was Dixon’s ground work in advance of the congressional hustling of then NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle that proved that the city could/would support a professional football team and the construction of a state-of-the-art facility to compensate for the city’s relatively small media market.

Dixon had the burden of selling the concept of an expensive domed stadium to a governor who was elected to his position not because of New Orleans but in spite of the state’s largest city and at the expense of its former mayor.

Back in the old days, New Orleanians were rarely elected governor. Catholics never. The rule was someone from north Louisiana would run against someone from the southern part of the state, with the former promising just enough patronage (AKA the governmental equivalent of pirate booty) to a city machine in return for delivering just enough votes (not necessarily a majority) in New Orleans.

This formula had produced governors from such cosmopolitan locales like Jackson Parish, Minden, Columbia and, of course, Winnfield. These folksy rural pols would play the New Orleans card and the Catholic card in a similar way that later white and then black politicians would play the race card.

With New Orleans demonized on the campaign trail and the victor’s margin coming from the sticks, the state’s largest city was treated like the rebellious colony it was in the 1760s.

Fortunately for Dixon and New Orleans, an extraordinary individual had won the 1964 gubernatorial race, a man who abandoned the old way of doing business after it had benefited him politically.

McKeithen was as much as a visionary as Dixon with the governor declaring to the latter “that Superdome you just described to me will be the greatest building in history, and, by God, we’ll build that sucker!”

After selling the state on the benefits of investing in such a grandiose undertaking and fending off political opportunists’ crass attempts to make the domed stadium stillborn to advance their own ambitions, Dixon and McKeithen indeed “built that sucker”.

And to prove that no bad deed goes unrewarded, one of the “dome demagogues” was later elected US Senator.

Dixon was also visionary in another way. In his book, he predicted that under the triumvirate of owner Tom Benson, general manager Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton that the Saints would win a Super Bowl before, as he so eloquently put it, “moved across the street to Metairie Cemetery”. He witnessed it by six months.

The Superdome wasn’t Dixon’s only accomplishment- it was just his greatest. He had his finger in many pots at one time or another including Tulane athletics, the USFL, professional tennis, the Archdiocese of New Orleans, politics (he made a bid for Congress in 1976 in one of the most controversial elections in Louisiana history- a description that speaks much) and art and antique dealing.

But his life will be forever linked to the Superdome. And an effort should be made to further solidify that connection.

After his partner in this bold endeavor passed away, there was a move to rename the Superdome after Governor McKeithen. However, this act was quashed over concerns that the dedication would close a potential naming-right revenue stream and a statue of the governor was erected on the Superdome’s grounds.

What I propose is not that the Superdome be named for Dixon permanently but for a period of seven days. Actually one week in particular, October 26th through November 1st.

On Halloween night the Saints will face the Pittsburgh Steelers in a nationally televised Sunday night football game on NBC. As most Saints fans are aware, All Hallow’s Eve is the day prior to the team’s birthday: November 1, 1966- All Saints Day.

For that week, the Louisiana Superdome should be referred to as the “Dave Dixon Superdome”. The cost of this gesture would be relatively negligible through the placement of banners and the distribution at the stadium’s gates of promotional items bearing the stadium’s temporary name. The game’s broadcasters would also refer to the stadium as such.

This simple act would raise awareness of Dixon’s crucial role in the creation of the Superdome to locals and the national audience watching at home.

The importance of the Superdome to New Orleans and Louisiana cannot be stressed enough. It was a catalyst that transformed blocks of warehouses into the city’s primary avenue of commerce; it has hosted musical performances, conventions and sporting events that have brought millions of tourists and billions of dollars to the area. It even hosted the Holy Father.

The Superdome is one of two most recognizable and important buildings in New Orleans, the other being Saint Louis Cathedral. However one of the reasons why the cathedral has enjoyed so much limelight is in no small part to the Superdome hosting a major event that brought the cameras down to the city in the first place.

Since its construction, the Superdome has outlasted as a functional facility many of the large domed stadiums that were built before or after it: Seattle’s King Dome is no more; the Astrodome sits unoccupied and likely has a date with a wrecking ball; Detroit’s Silver Dome was sold for less than a half-million and on good days hosts monster truck shows; and word on the street is that the Atlanta Falcons are trying to fly out of the Georgia Dome.

Yet despite suffering damage from Hurricane Katrina, the Superdome is as much a symbol of New Orleans’ recovery and perseverance as it is an economic engine.

Just as Rickey Jackson finally got his due from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, so should Dave Dixon get a final salute for his instrumental role in leaving a tremendous inheritance for New Orleans.

Considering the four decades of benefits the Superdome has brought to the area, the least that could be done is for the famed-stadium to be “loaned” to Dave Dixon for a week.

I suspect the bespectacled gentleman I met at a funeral five years ago would have appreciated it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Canton's First "True Dat"

While attending a meeting in Cleveland in 2006, I decided to drive down to Canton to see the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Towards the end of the museum, there’s a section where each team has its own small area. Under the Saints’ display, I noticed a small card listing the Saints that had been inducted in the Hall. One name was listed: Jim Finks.

Technically, that was incorrect, as a few athletes that have worn a Saints uniform had made it inside.

Fullback Jim Taylor, running back Earl Campbell and defensive end Doug Atkins are in the Hall though they earned their busts from their accomplishments with other teams as their best days were behind them when Taylor and Atkins arrived at Tulane Stadium and Campbell suited up in the Superdome.

They were Saints in the same way that Rickey Henderson was a Seattle Mariner. All three ended their careers as Saints combining for just over 5.5 seasons with the Black and Gold.

Even the one individual the Hall’s display manager conceded to the Saints had made his mark prior to affiliating with the team. Finks had enjoyed success running the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears’ front offices before heading down south. Unlike the case of the three other “Saint” Hall of Famers, Finks made a substantial contribution to the New Orleans organization, transforming a perennial loser into a playoff team that inhaled its first whiffs of success.

Finks didn’t just pass through New Orleans; he demonstrated his organizational genius in the most challenging setting in the league.

Fast-forward a few years later at the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame luncheon in Metairie, retired kicker Tom Dempsey is mingling with the fans, proudly signing his autograph “Tom Dempsey 63 yd FG 11/8/70” on to whatever objects that are put before him.

Though not inducted in the Hall itself, Dempsey’s flat-tipped shoe from his record-setting kick is on display. When I mentioned seeing his footwear and wondered aloud whether former linebacker Rickey Jackson’s likeness would make it in the shrine, Dempsey’s smile instantaneously disappeared and was replaced with an angry grimace.

“It’s criminal how he’s not already in there,” snarled the ex-kicker who went on to play for a few other teams after his stint with the Saints but moved back to New Orleans after retiring.

For a pro who never played on the same Saints squad, Dempsey’s sincere consternation about the Hall’s “sin of omission” impressed me.

Short of something horribly extraordinary happening (and I dare not speculate what could derail this), quarterback Drew Brees will go down as the greatest figure in Saints’ history. No need to delve into reasons why…just go take a gander at the Lombardi Trophy sitting in the foyer of the team’s headquarters off of Airline Drive.

However until Super Bowl XLIV, number 57 was undeniably the greatest player to ever wear a fleur-de-lis on a football helmet. And Jackson will likely remain the team’s greatest defensive player. The combination of his impressive physique, playing style and mentality towards the game is rare in the history of the game and never has a player meant so much for so long to this team.

Jackson was a gridiron monster that got sacks, forced fumbles, recovered fumbles and made tackles. And he was the star of the best linebacker corps in the history of pro-football.

Jackson was a large part of the foundation that was already in place when Finks arrived on the scene to build a hapless franchise into something special.

Jackson’s contributions have always been appreciated locally. He is one of only two Saints players whose name and number hangs from the rafters of the Superdome and there was an online petition dedicated to the cause of Jackson’s enshrinement.

A testament of how much he was loved by area fans was that many weren’t too upset when he went to San Francisco because that would be Jackson’s best shot at getting a Super Bowl ring.

Being in the same division as the Saints and having consistently put quality teams on the field in the 1980s and early 1990s the Forty-Niners were considered the “other” Red and Gold evil empire by New Orleans fans.

Though he finished as one of the all-time leaders in quarterback sacks, got his Super Bowl ring and was selected to six Pro Bowls, Jackson struggled more busting through the door to the Hall than he ever did an opposing offensive line.

Part of this likely has to do with the small media market where Jackson made his bones. Jackson’s cause wasn’t helped from unresolved child support issues.

Yet 14 years removed from his final season, Jackson’s chances of finally getting the respect he deserved improved at the same time his former team was having the greatest season in franchise history. One wonders if the rediscovery of Jackson’s greatness was nudged a bit by the 2009 Saints.

While most Saints fans were totally caught up in Super Bowl fever, a part of my mind was dwelling on another piece of news important to the Saints: would Jackson finally get his due?

On the eve of the greatest moment in Saints’ history, the Hall announced that “City Champ” would be inducted. The superstitious Catholic in me considered that the ultimate omen that things would indeed go well for the Black and Gold in Miami the next day.

While watching ESPN’s SportsCenter after the induction ceremonies, I got agitated from the commentators who acted as if the only two people brought into the hall that evening was Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice. It was as if Jackson and the other four barely mentioned inductees had gotten into Canton by winning a raffle.

Some things never change.

However, enough responsible people finally gave the recognition due to #57 thus making Rickey Jackson the first “True Dat” to enter the Pro-Football Hall of Fame and opening a hole for other Saints players whose names might create some clutter on that little card in the museum that now bears the names of two New Orleans Saints Hall of Famers.

Congratulations Rickey. You earned your spot even if you didn’t deserve to have to wait this long to get it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

TOK: Saints' Training Camp Report 1

In The Onside Kick’s first (ever) visit to Saints Training Camp, I got to observe two practice sessions over the weekend and speak with some of the members of the defending World Champions and a few others on the proverbial bubble hoping to literally “make the cut”.


There was an estimated 2,200 fans in attendance in the sweltering heat on Saturday morning though the crowd was lighter for the warmer Sunday afternoon public practice. Ironically those in attendance tried to cool themselves by waving paper fans sponsored by Crystal Hot Sauce. Others held Saints themed parasols or imbibed in beverages, alcoholic and otherwise, being hawked by vendors lugging tubs of drinks.

They were days were A breeze was as welcome as THE Brees.

Being out there makes one wonder if moving many practices indoors is as much an act of mercy for a traveling fan base that is willing to weather any conditions as much for the players. I can vouch that the press welcomed the end of practice horn as much as the athletes they were covering.

After observing the players stretch, the crowd reacted loudly whenever quarterback Drew Brees, running back Reggie Bush or tight end Jeremy Shockey executed a play in closer proximity to the stands. They also cheered when major television outlets did “fan pan” shots.

The players wore helmets missing the Saints trademark (key word garage t-shirt makers) fleur-de-lis and the jerseys didn’t have names, making the job of discerning who was making certain plays a challenge. Even more so when the squads were split and simultaneously conducted drills.

Seen Around Camp

“Construction Yarmulkes”: Because special teams includes players from both sides of the football, the return team wears bright orange helmet covers that resemble a yarmulke someone in the construction business would wear while rushing off to temple.

A Visit from The Boss: Team owner Tom Benson and his wife Gayle made appearances at both public training sessions over the weekend, as the duo road past his enthusiastic “investors” in a golf cart while waving his championship ring adorned finger and exhorting the crowd to yell “Two Dat!”

Who Dat Taking Notes? In addition to WWL 870 AM radio sportscaster and ex-Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert, another former Black and Gold warrior has transitioned to the realm of journalism. Bred Edelman, who played for the Saints from 1982-1989.
The ex-offensive guard is covering Saints training camp for WDSU.

Edelman is associated with another part of the local sports’ hagiography as he was one of the five players providing the “Who Dat” chant in the original popular Saints song that featured Aaron Neville.


Wide receiver Lance Moore looks to have healed well after struggling with injuries in the 2009 season. The “Two-Point Hero” from the Super Bowl XLIV consistently made catches, including grabbing passes that many receivers would not have caught. In lieu of “Mighty Mouse”, an unappreciated sobriquet that was assigned to him, perhaps “Magnet Hands” would be more appropriate. It’s no wonder why #16 is a favorite target of Brees.

The run defense looked stout in drills, not giving up much yards.

However, one player who had some success was re-signed running back P.J. Hill. The “human bowling ball” managed to go forward in the midst of a defensive crowd. Hill has been popularly touted as the “new” Lynell Hamilton, who has since been dubbed the “new’ Mike Bell. Hill was originally signed by the Saints as a free-agent after the 2009 NFL draft.

Despite having a productive pre-season, Hill didn’t make the 53-man roster in 2009 but was signed to the practice squad. From there the Philadelphia Eagles signed Hill and after being waived and then signed to their practice squad was signed by the Washington Redskins.

Coming full-circle, the Redskins waived him earlier this year and Hill was then re-signed by the Saints. The Saints would be wise to make Hill their fourth back, though the team is reportedly looking at a free-agent running back.

Kick-returner and kick-off gunner Courtney Roby made a good case for himself as a wide receiver this past weekend. In a rare unwise move by the Saints front office last year, Roby was cut last season but was quickly re-signed. Roby’s status with the team appears secure.

Patrick Ramsey did a good job making Saints fans have a greater appreciation for Mark Brunell. The just-signed quarterback’s passes were low and didn’t inspire much confidence in his capacity to step in for Brees if the unthinkable ever happens. Contrary to what has been said since Ramsey joined the Saints (including by yours truly), the number two slot at QB is far from resolved.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Favre Quits?!?

He’s doing it again.

And I doubt anyone who pays even the slightest attention to the NFL is the least surprised.

Quarterback Brett Favre- one of the greatest figures in the history of the game, owner of a number of (good and bad) records and a productive player even in his relatively advanced age- is allowing, stoking and/or orchestrating much flapping of gums and gnashing of teeth regarding a leaked text message saying that he is calling it quits.

Truthfully, I was a little hesitant to write on this subject.

My primary concern is whether the redneck wonder will be facing the New Orleans Saints at the league’s regular season kickoff at the very venue of the most infamous play of his storied career.

Secondly, by the time you read this, or by the time I’m, finished typing this, Favre might have definitely declared his intentions. Not that such a promulgation from number 4 is necessarily etched in stone.

A Favre-less Viking squad would be a less formidable opening challenge for the Saints as they strive to “start strong” in their quest to make it a Two-Dat in 2010. Not that Tarvaris Jackson, Minnesota’s number two QB, is a pushover. He’s just not Favre.

On top of an improved Saints defense, Jackson, who attempted a grand total of 21 passes in the 2009 season, will have to contend with a crowd that will be hyped up from the unveiling of the World Champion banner in the Superdome. Think a noise level around that of the 2006 Dome-coming game against Atlanta.

Jackson might want to borrow little Baylen’s ear-muffs.

But back to reality.

As of 6:52 PM CST these are the facts (or well-reported rumors).

1) Sources told ESPN that Favre texted teammates that he would not return.
2) Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said that Favre had sent text messages to his fellow/former Vikings though he had not received a direct message from the quarterback.
3) Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, who would not admit having received the text message, said he would not believe that Favre has retired until it became official.
4) Vikings head coach Brad Childress has charitably described the situation as “fluid”.

A more cynical view of the situation is that it seems likely that the Vikings organization is in on the gag as they obviously know something, though they’re not saying anything.

Naturally Favre could put an end to all of this speculation with a public word, but has not. And even if he had, Favre could just as well utter a different word the next day.

But that said, it must be awful to be a Vikings fan right now. To their credit, the northern variety of the purple and gold faithful looked past the pass that ended their deep playoff run. Some even paid for a billboard showing number 4 some love and expressed hope he would return to the team for the 2010 season.

Watching the Favre-retirement rumor game is yet another reason why Saints fans should appreciate Drew Brees beyond bringing the Crescent City its first Lombardi Trophy as I don’t think number 9 would do this to Saints fans.

I have no pity for the Vikings organization, which knew precisely what they were getting themselves into when they signed Favre. And maybe they know he’s coming back after all.

For a team whose odds of winning the Super Bowl literally shift with Favre’s presence, the Vikings players and coaches seem to be taking his quasi-announcement in stride.

Having watched Favre cry “wolf’ twice before, in addition to digesting the conflicting retirement hints he has sprinkled in between, I’ll believe he’s not playing in the 2010 season after Super Bowl XLV.

I don’t care if he misses pre-season; I don’t care if he misses part of the regular season.

If Favre is willing and the Vikings want him, they’ll make whatever accommodations necessary to have him in the huddle.

Beyond taking some perverse pleasure in watching this play out (maybe he was jealous that “The Bron” was muscling in on his trademark career move media kabuki?), two other things could be attributed to the latest round of speculation: one, Favre’s ankle has not fully healed yet necessitating an indefinite delay and two, Favre is like a nine year old addicted to his Playstation and dreads the thought of going to camp.

Having been burned by two opposing “no shows” last season (DeMarcus Ware and Dwight Freeney), Saints coach Sean Payton should ignore the hype until the week before the season opener and prepare his team to face Favre on September 9th.

Note: As of 7:26 PM CST, Favre is still semi-retired.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Saints Set to Visit White House August 9th

The World Champion New Orleans Saints will finally meet President Barack Obama when the Black and Gold stop by the executive mansion en route to playing the New England Patriots in the team’s first exhibition game of the 2010 season.

The Saints are scheduled to drop by on Monday, August 9th though a time has not been released.

NBC Sports had reported in June that the politics might have been a factor in the unusually long delay, as Saints owner Tom Benson is a large contributor to Republican causes. However, Saints vice-president of communications Greg Bensel strenuously denied the story quickly after it appeared, claiming that the early August appearance had been set months in advance.

Furthermore, Bensel confirmed that the team’s Republican owner would be on hand for the ceremony.

The NBC Sports story had made references to recent Super Bowl winners that had visited the White House much closer to their victories than the Saints. Both the New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts made their victory lap at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue within three months of winning the big game.