SBD/August 1, 2012/Franchises

Saints Hang Large Banner Of Suspended Coach Sean Payton In Practice Facility

Interim coach says Payton banner at practice facility was idea of Saints owner
The Saints have added a "billboard-sized picture” of suspended coach Sean Payton to the team's indoor practice facility, which is hung "high along the eastern end of the facility," according to Larry Holder of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. It is a picture of Payton's face “in an intense moment during Super Bowl XLIV and the slogan ‘Do Your Job’ is plastered in all white caps across the bottom of the photo.” Interim coach Joe Vitt said that it was “all Saints owner Tom Benson's idea” (NOLA.com, 7/27). ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Benson “put up that big picture of Sean Payton inside the indoor facility." Mortensen: "We haven’t heard Tom Benson step up once and say, ‘Alright guys, that’s enough talking. That’s enough chatter.’ ... It also affects the organization’s reputation. Face it, we know how close he is to Sean Payton and he called that suspension ridiculous” ("NFL 32," ESPN2, 7/30). NFL Network’s Mark Kriegel said of the Payton banner, “Is he a political prisoner? When did he become [a] martyr?” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 7/30). ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullan said the Saints “have been defiant throughout" the bounty investigation, and they "want to show solidarity within their team.” ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande said Payton's name "is on the official team roster, he’s in the media guide." Adande: "They’re violating the spirit of what the NFL tried to do in disassociating him from the team.” Meanwhile, SB Nation’s Bomani Jones said the Payton banner is “one of the spookiest things I’ve ever seen” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 7/30). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “Why don’t they put a big banner up there with him saying, ‘Do My Job,’ because somebody’s going to have to do his job other than him” (“PTI,” ESPN, 7/30).

BOLD STATEMENT BY BREES: Saints QB Drew Brees told SI's Peter King that nobody trusts NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and ESPN's Mortensen noted that comment “carries weight around the league because this is Drew Brees talking." Mortensen: "It’s got to sting the commissioner, he’s only human. ... They do believe had the Saints gone through the process, maybe he would have had some outs. Maybe he would have reduced some of the penalties.” ESPN’s Tim Hasselbeck noted Brees has been an active member of the NFLPA and said, "These words coming from a player as respected as Drew is, both on the field and off the field -- no doubt do they sting. But I think they ring true for a lot of players.” ESPN's Cris Carter: “I don’t think that we’ve had the history where ... we’ve had the best player speak out against the league like this” (“NFL 32,” ESPN2, 7/30).

FALCONS WANT NO PART OF STATUE: In New Orleans, James Varney cited sources as saying that the Falcons “refused to grant the Saints and sculptor Brian Hanlon permission to use the Falcons' symbol” or former P Michael Koenen's name in a statue outside the Superdome commemorating former Saints DB Steve Gleason's “famous blocked punt.” The blocked punt occurred against the Falcons in the "MNF" game in the Superdome after it re-opened in '06 following Hurricane Katrina. Sources said that the Saints “repeatedly sought permission from the Falcons, even urging officials in Atlanta to appeal directly to Falcons owner Arthur Blank” (NOLA.com, 7/27).
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