Saints' Jackson decides to take action
Posted on May 16, 2003
If losing his starting job was the motivation Grady Jackson needed to lose weight, he should be in much better shape by the time the Saints open training camp in late July.
The mammoth defensive tackle weighed 366 pounds when he checked in for the team's first minicamp on May 1. But if the numbers on the scale didn't hit Jackson like a ton of bricks, the realization of losing his starting job to three-year veteran Kenny Smith certainly did.
Jackson vowed to fight back after being demoted to the second unit behind Smith before minicamp. The other starter is first-round draft pick Johnathan Sullivan, whose selection led the Saints to trade Norman Hand, their other starting tackle in 2002, to the Seahawks on the second day of the draft. Hand has also been engaged in the battle of the bulge during his three-year stay in New Orleans.
The stinging words of coach Jim Haslett weren't too comforting to Jackson, a seven-year veteran, either. Haslett said Jackson, who hasn't participated in the club's offseason strength and conditioning program, looked bad and was unprofessional for not working out with his teammates.
"I feel like an outcast," said Jackson, who had 55 tackles and 5.5 sacks last season. "I feel like a lone tree in the pasture, like I'm on an island. I've got to fight back and swim to shore. I'll get there. I've always been a fighter. This is just a little adversity that I've got to overcome.
"I didn't lose my job, it was given away," he said.
Jackson has one year left on the two-year, $3.275 million contract he signed in April 2002. The contract calls for him to receive $1 million in base salary and a $1 million roster bonus this season.
Jackson claimed he and Hand are being made the scapegoats for the Saints' defensive woes last season, when they ranked 27th in total defense and 19th against the run. The team also allowed 4.5 yards per rushing attempt.
"This is a team game, it's not all our fault," said Jackson, who's hired a nutritionist and personal chef to help him slim down. "They're trying to blame one or two individuals to make themselves look good.
"I could have had a lot more tackles but a lot of other guys could have played better, too," he said. "We all had a bad year. The whole team didn't get the job done."
Haslett said the coaching staff hasn't given up on Jackson.
"We've just got to make sure that Grady is going to get into the program. His weight is inexcusable for a professional athlete. If we can get him into the program, with the talent he has, I think he could play well."
Charles in charge: Charles Bailey, the Saints' director of community affairs and assistant director of governmental relations, has moved on. He started work this week as the new pro personnel director for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Bailey - who had been with the Saints since 1999 - was previously the team's assistant general manager of football operations.
Bailey, a former pro personnel director of the Steelers during the Tom Donahoe/Tom Modrak/early Bill Cowher years as well, was also mentioned prominently in discussions regarding the vacant pro personnel position in San Diego, according to theinsiders.com.
Bailey joined the Steelers in June of 1989 after eight years as an eastern scout with National Football Scouting. He left the Steelers for a similar job at New Orleans, but was demoted, according to theinsiders.com, to the post of Director of Community Affairs when the Randy Mueller regime fell. He had "teamed with Mueller to make astute personnel decisions, turning the Saints from hapless losers into a playoff team," according to The Insiders.
"Jacksonville gave me the opportunity to get back on the football side, where I can help make an impact on the field," Bailey told The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. "My stay in New Orleans has been terrific, and I'm most appreciative of the great relationships we've been able to develop."
Bailey, 46, attended North Carolina Central, where he played football from1969-73. He graduated in 1974 with a physical education degree, and in 1980 he earned his master's in guidance and counseling from North Carolina A&T.
Can you spare a dime?: The Sporting News noticed that "teams hurt the Saints last season by running against the dime and nickel packages."
That shouldn't be as easy in 2003, with the addition of free-agent Tebucky Jones.
"He is versatile enough to cover wide receivers but physical enough to defend the run like an extra linebacker," writes Jeff Duncan, a former sports editor at The News-Star. "The team now has the luxury of playing its base defense in some passing situations because of Jones' ability to cover Nos. 3 and 4 receivers."
Quote, unquote: "The bottom line for me is I'm a football player, and I love football first and foremost. You still make great money, so you can't complain at all. I wouldn't have done anything differently (in New Orleans). You make a decision and you go with it," said departed free agent Sammy Knight, who joined a Miami Dolphins defense with eight current or former Pro Bowl players.
Media, schmedia!: "We're told Saints head coach Jim Haslett may have made some enemies in the media by suggesting that the team was looking to improve its secondary when it was actually focusing on the defensive line," according to Pro Football Weekly's The Way We Hear It.
"Lying in the days leading up to Draft Day isn't anything new, but the Saints were so effective that it was a huge shock when they traded up to select Georgia DT Johnathan Sullivan with the sixth-overall pick.
"We're told Haslett was hoping to trade with the Bears for the No. 4 pick to have a shot at Kentucky DT Dewayne Robertson, but when the Jets beat them to the punch, Haslett & Co. went to Plan B," according to PFW.
The rest you already know: New Orleans traded two picks with the Cardinals to move up to grab Sullivan, who team official said was rated second among defensive tackles on their board.
"But the opportunity to nab Sullivan," according to Pro Football Weekly, "wasn't the only reason the Saints made the deal. They also swapped second-round picks with the Cardinals and got a high fourth-round pick, something the team was lacking. If the Saints weren't able to work out a deal to move up, we're told they had their eyes on USC S Troy Polamalu and would also have taken the highest remaining defensive tackle on their board."
Goff gets into trouble: Robert "Pig" Goff - a defensive lineman who began his NFL career at New Orleans - is facing charges of felony child abuse after allegedly hitting his 13-year-old son with a broomstick.
Lawyers for Goff, 37, declined comment and advised Goff not to comment.
Goff spent most of his NFL career with the Saints, from 1990-1995. He also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1988-89 and the Minnesota Vikings in 1996.
Goff then played four seasons with the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League from 1998 through 2001.
He has been employed since 1997 at Bayshore High School, where he works as an assistant football and track coach.
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