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pakowitz 05-02-2003 01:46 AM

Whining their way out of town

By Teddy Renois
Sports Writer

I’m breaking my self-imposed silence on the New Orleans Saints.

After wilting at the end of the 2002 season, I wanted to forget about them for a while. I needed to focus on something besides our professional football franchise.

But, the Saints always keep themselves in the spotlight, whether it is good or bad.

And like a Louisiana thunderstorm in August, the Saints rained down complaint after complaint about holding training camp in Thibodaux.

It was too hot, too wet and they didn’t like the dormitories or the food. The organization even complained about the landscaping on the campus of Nicholls State University.

So, in their lack of wisdom, the organization decided to break the contract with the university and hold training camp at its facility in Metairie.

When the announcement came down, I admit I was angry. I agree the Saints are high maintenance tenants, but what they brought to the area in tax money and prestige is irreplaceable.

What angered me was the organization blamed the university for not being able to accommodate their requests for improving the training camp.

After last season’s camp, the Saints made no mention of improvements that needed to be made.

A month ago, just about the time they realized the indoor facility in Metairie was on schedule to be completed in July, a list of demands surfaced.

They wanted better drainage, better housing and a synthetic surface in John L. Guidry Stadium.

Who wouldn’t want to see these improvements at Nicholls?

But, they were unrealistic, to say the least. Even if Nicholls or the state of Louisiana came through with money, the time to make these improvements was too short.

Before the university or the state had a chance to address these demands properly, the Saints broke the deal.

Notice, the Saints don’t ask -- they demand. And like a whining baby, if their demands are not met, they cry more.

I know this is old news by now, but I can’t let it go just yet. And I hope it rains daily in Metairie and the indoor facility leaks.

Holding training camp at organizations’ facilities is a wave of the future in the NFL, and it probably has more pluses than minuses.

So, why make the university the bad guy in this deal?

Even though I am disappointed in an organization that brings sorrow to its fans on a consistent basis, I have to give them credit on the draft

The move up in the first round was solid. Drafting Johnathan Sullivan, a defensive tackle, was the biggest need on this team.

Before the draft, the Saints said they would move up for one of the two top defensive backs. When they drafted Sullivan, analysts said how poker-faced the Saints were for not letting other teams know their intentions.

However, we are talking about the Saints.

Although they look like geniuses right now, it wouldn’t have caught me off guard if they had selected a defensive back.

It would have been just like the Saints to take a defensive back when teams ran up the middle on their defense last year.

So, I have to give them credit for doing something right on draft day in picking a player they had to have.

It figured the Arizona Cardinals, maybe one of the few organizations worse than New Orleans over the years, made the Saints look good.

The rest of the draft is solid and most grades from experts are above average.

I am going back to my self-imposed silence on this team for now until training camp.

A training camp held in Metairie and not Thibodaux. A training camp that has little in accommodations for fans to enjoy practices. A training camp forcing fans to fight city traffic. A training camp that lost its small town feel and took away from a community that opened its arms and welcomed it, even when it constantly complained.

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