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SmashMouth 02-02-2013 10:47 AM

Roger Goodell, New Orleans Saints will have to agree to disagree in lingering bounty debate
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Anyone who was expecting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to open his annual state-of-the-league press conference Friday with a heartfelt apology to the New Orleans Saints and the city was fooling themselves. Same for anyone hoping he might throw the Saints a bone and give them back their second-round draft pick.

Goodell's stance on the Saints hasn't softened one bit over the past 11 months, and there was no reason to expect that to change now - even while he was gushing with praise over how gracious the city has been as a host for Super Bowl 2013.

So if it wasn't evident before, it should painfully clear by now: In the matter of the great bounty debate, Goodell, the Saints, the fan base and the NFL players association are all going to have to agree to disagree.

I've always hated that expression - as do, I imagine, many of the most strong-willed people inside and outside the Saints' organization who still feel like they were never treated fairly by Goodell and the league.

But in this particular instance, it's pretty much the only thing the Saints can do.

That, and embrace the fact that as of Monday morning the NFL's calendar officially will switch to the 2013 season.

"The beauty of sports is that we have next season," Saints owner/vice chairman Rita Benson LeBlanc said after attending Goodell's press conference Friday. "And I am so happy to see the enthusiasm that Coach (Sean) Payton has, Drew Brees and all of our team for next year. But we are a team to be reckoned with next year."

That's the attitude the Saints organization has opted to take - whether they're truly willing to forgive and forget or just eager to move on.

Payton made similar comments last week after being reinstated by Goodell following his season-long suspension.

And LeBlanc said Payton and Goodell made similar comments Thursday night while both attended a party hosted by Owner Tom Benson and his wife Gayle in City Park, with many of the league's elite in attendance.

"The strength of the league is that we have many very strong personalities. And our focus collectively is on the good of the game," LeBlanc said. "At our owners party last night, Coach Sean Payton and Roger were happy, excited to move forward and talk about how great New Orleans is this week.

"And our commissioner is deeply attached to New Orleans. Back when we reopened the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after Katrina, although (former commissioner Paul) Tagliabue gets so much credit, Roger was his guy on the ground for that. So his passion for New Orleans is not something that's forgotten."

Likewise, Goodell spoke highly of his admiration for New Orleans on Friday - both in his opening statements, where he thanked city leaders and referred to the city as "bigger and better than ever" and when he was asked about the reception he's received this week.

Though Goodell hasn't exactly been bumping elbows with the common fans around town, he has been made aware of the various displays of displeasure toward him. And he generally seemed to get a kick out of them.

"I couldn't feel more welcome here," Goodell said. "My picture, as you point out, is in every restaurant. I had a float in the Mardi Gras parade. We got a voodoo doll. (But) I'm serious, really, the people here have been incredible. The last couple of nights I've been out with a lot of the people that I worked very closely with following the Katrina tragedy, and we celebrated the work that we did then, but what we did is we all reflected on how great that was that we worked together, and they couldn't be nicer. They couldn't be more welcoming, and the same is true with fans."

Goodell even stressed that he understands and appreciates the way the fans feel about their team.

"I understand the fans' loyalty is to the team. They had no part of this," Goodell said. "They were completely innocent in this. So I appreciate the passion. I saw that for myself when we were down here for Katrina, and it's clear that that's what they're all about. So I support the fact that they're passionate in supporting their team."

Alas, Goodell showed no such sympathy for the Saints' organization when it came to the bounty investigation.

When asked if he has any regrets about the way he's handled things over the past 11 months, Goodell said:

"Let me just take a moment and get back and make sure everyone is clear on the record. There is no question there was a bounty program in place for three years. I think that that is bad for the players, for the game, and I think the message is incredibly clear, and I don't believe that bounties will be part of football going forward. That's good for everybody. I do think that message has come through clear.

"As it relates to the regrets, I think my biggest regret is that we aren't all recognizing that this is a collective responsibility to get them out of the game to make the game safer. Clearly the team, the NFL, the coaching staffs, executives and players, we all share that responsibility. That's what I regret, that I wasn't able to make that point clearly enough with the union, and with others. That is something we are going to be incredibly relentless on."

Goodell reiterated that stance when asked about why he didn't consider giving the Saints back their second-round pick.

"The reason why we're not returning any of the draft choices or any of the discipline is because it occurred, and it should not have occurred," Goodell said.

And Goodell also expressed once again Friday that he disagreed with Tagliabue's decision to vacate the Saints' player suspensions during the appeals process two months ago.

Goodell's firm stance on his bounty findings weren't surprising. But it's still a shame that he has never once shown a willingness to concede that his extreme punishments and portrayal of the Saints' actions didn't match with the players' actual actions on the field.

Payton admitted last week that he learned to appreciate some of Goodell's viewpoints, especially after he had a productive 4 1/2-hour meeting with the commissioner last week. Goodell, meanwhile, has never made such concessions.

On a wider scale, when Goodell was also asked about the NFLPA's desire to have an arbitrator handle off the field issues, he said that's a power "that we're not going to relent on."

"It is very important for us to maintain our integrity and our brand. We expect that the people that are involved with our game from the commissioner to the players to the coaches will uphold those standards," Goodell said. "When there are violations along those lines, they impact on the integrity of the game. That is something that the commissioner has had the authority on for several decades, several versions of the CBA, and that is not something that we're going to relent on.

"That is the commissioner's role, and you can hold me accountable for it, and I will stand by my decisions."

That particular debate probably will continue to wage for years, as the dissension between Goodell and the players seems greater now than ever before.

And in that sense, the Saints' bounty case will continue to leave its mark on the NFL for a long time to come.

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saintfan 02-02-2013 11:16 AM

Re: Roger Goodell, New Orleans Saints will have to agree to disagree in lingering bounty debate
He's a douchenozzle. Period.

onebyone 02-02-2013 11:19 AM

Re: Roger Goodell, New Orleans Saints will have to agree to disagree in lingering bounty debate
I completely loathe Der Kommissar and will to my dying day.

There is no disagreement on that.

Seer1 02-02-2013 12:00 PM

Re: Roger Goodell, New Orleans Saints will have to agree to disagree in lingering bounty debate
I've got your agreement hangin'...

Utah_Saint 02-02-2013 12:17 PM

Re: Roger Goodell, New Orleans Saints will have to agree to disagree in lingering bounty debate

Originally Posted by saintfan (Post 477091)
He's a douchenozzle. Period.

Succinct, accurate and to the point. I think that about sums it up nicely.

UK_WhoDat 02-02-2013 02:27 PM

Re: Roger Goodell, New Orleans Saints will have to agree to disagree in lingering bounty debate
I want to know why that bar with a sign warning of low clearance, marked "MAX. HEADROOM" was not not only 36 inches high.

QBREES9 02-04-2013 11:30 AM

Re: Roger Goodell, New Orleans Saints will have to agree to disagree in lingering bounty debate
He's an idiot.

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