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SmashMouth 03-29-2012 06:48 AM

New Orleans Saints fans asked to keep all in perspective by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knows he won't get many Christmas cards from New Orleans Saints fans this year, but popularity isn't the point. Closing out the NFL owners' spring meeting Wednesday in Palm Beach, Fla., Goodell said he understands the Saints' fan base is roiled by the severe penalties he imposed on the team. Nevertheless, he admonished Saints fans to put their crisis in context. His job calls on him to protect the integrity of the game, Goodell argued, and that was threatened by what he has painted as an isolated case of extreme lawlessness in New Orleans.

Commissioner Roger Goodell indicated at the NFL owners' spring meeting Wednesday in Palm Beach, Fla., that he has a fondness for New Orleans, which has figured prominently in his career.
That club behavior, which the NFL insists featured on-field attempts to injure opponents, has become one of the biggest scandals in recent pro football history. It has spawned the harshest punishments ever meted out against coaches and executives, resulting in Coach Sean Payton's one-year ban from the game and General Manager Mickey Loomis' eight-game suspension. The unprecedented steps were imposed not only because of on-field transgressions, Goodell has made clear, but because Payton, Loomis and others treated the matter as a contemptible annoyance, dissembling for years and impeding the investigation.

What's more, more is to come, as Goodell reiterated punishments for specific players loom. He provided no clear timetable for the pending sentences, which are expected to involve suspensions and fines and will be crafted following consultation with the NFLPA and perhaps more individual players. NFLPA officials didn't respond to a request for comment.

The draconian punishments -- Goodell also suspended assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games and stripped New Orleans of two second-round draft picks and fined the club $500,000 -- have left fans convinced the commissioner has a vendetta against Payton and the Saints, whose adherence to the NFL's rulebook and customs is sometimes cursory. In addition, Saints fans believe Goodell has drawn a false distinction between what transpired in New Orleans from 2009 to 2011 and what has long been an accepted tradition of under the table incentives in the NFL.

That is all fantasy, Goodell insisted Wednesday. In fact, he indicated he has a fondness for New Orleans, which has figured prominently in his NFL career, first when he helped the logistical morass that surrounded moving Super Bowl XXXVI back due to the 9/11 attacks the previous September, and then when he was one of former commissioner Paul Tagliabue's point people on the NFL's efforts to ensure the Saints stayed in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

"Listen, I understand the frustration of the Saints fans, and I have great respect for them," he said. "We will be there with them for Super Bowl at the conclusion of this coming season. I worked very closely as we were getting the Saints re-established after the hurricane, so I saw first-hand the Saints' passion and their fans' passion. I clearly understand that frustration, but everyone has to understand that there are 32 teams, and everybody is going to have to operate by the same rules. If we don't do that, the integrity of the game, and what fans love about the game, will be impacted negatively -- and that is my responsibility."

In the wake of the scandal, the Saints' contingent in Palm Beach maintained a discreet presence, rarely being seen in the hallways of The Breakers. The meeting was an uncomfortable one for New Orleans, according to a league source familiar, but on the whole the support from other clubs was greater than the Saints officials expected upon arrival.

Still, there was one big exception to the Saints quiet participation. Payton spoke publicly Tuesday for the first time since the scandal broke, holding court in the hotel lobby and nurturing the story the Saints might hire his mentor, two-time Super Bowl champion Coach Bill Parcells, as an interim replacement.

That glamorous wrinkle provided another theme for the meeting, namely that Payton and Goodell are involved in some sort of testosterone brinksmanship. Goodell said he saw some media accounts of Payton's remarks, and that he welcomed Payton to the meeting Tuesday with a handshake, but the two didn't speak or meet.

Goodell was asked about that as the meeting closed, and he calmly denied it rankles him that the people he depicted as villains in the bounty scandal -- namely, Loomis and Payton -- now were orchestrating a high-profile courtship with a legendary figure to take over their crippled team.

"No," Goodell said, before once again making a point he mentioned when the meeting opened. "Again, ultimately the owner is going to have to make the final decision. They are suspended from operations during that period of time, but they are going to have to make decisions on how the Saints are going to be operated either as a group or however Tom Benson wants to do that."

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SmashMouth 03-29-2012 06:49 AM

Looks like he's starting to feel the heat from Saints fans!

Supertek 03-29-2012 06:59 AM

As Buddy would say he is a squirrel!!!

neugey 03-29-2012 07:04 AM


Originally Posted by SmashMouth (Post 393588)
Looks like he's starting to feel the heat from Saints fans!

dizzle88 03-29-2012 07:18 AM

Roger goodell is a hypocrite, I understand that he wants to keep the game safe but he only punishes who he wants to, other teams have admitted to having bounties out on players and he doesn't bat an eyelid at them, just punishes our team

Mardigras9 03-29-2012 07:55 AM

"The draconian punishments"

Excellent description.

Euphoria 03-29-2012 08:17 AM

Feeling the heat, I love it.

42alpha saint 03-29-2012 08:48 AM

Goodell could care less about Saints Fans. He is sitting there in his office thumping his chest and telling his circle of cronies look at me, Ill show them whos in charge of things in this league, but when put in the public eye, tries to tell the saints fans what he thinks they want to hear. You can pour sugar all over a pile of BS, but you still have a pile of BS. We arent stupid Goodell.

burningmetal 03-29-2012 09:07 AM


That is all.

alexonfyre 03-29-2012 09:35 AM

Translation: "Please don't shoot me come February"

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