Amid League Suspensions, Saints Owner Tom Benson Pledges Support To Loomis, Payton
Saints Owner Tom Benson “is standing by the men in charge of his football team” despite their implication in the NFL bounty scandal," according to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Benson's loyalty "should surprise no one.” But head coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis have led the team “into an embarrassing abyss” that “dwarfs anything the club endured during Benson’s 26-year watch.” Duncan writes it is “admirable" for Benson to stand by Loomis and Payton, but what he “really needs to do is step forward and stand in front of them.” He “needs to lead” and the “time is now.” Duncan: “The situation demands it.” Benson's inner circle “has always been small” and longtime advisers Stanley Rosenberg and Tom Roddy “undoubtedly are at his side.” Saints CFO Dennis Lauscha “remains a trusted source,” but their expertise “lies with the business side of the operation.” Whom Benson leans on “outside the organization for football advice is unclear” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 3/23). Duncan wrote the Saints essentially “told Goodell: ‘It’s our universe’ and to go away.” Payton and his team “now will pay the price for this hubris.” The outcry from many Saints fans in the aftermath of the announcement of the suspensions “was predictable,” but it “also was disturbingly misguided.” Duncan: “This wasn't a mistake. A mistake is a typo in a league memorandum. This was conspiracy, institutional insubordination of the highest order” (NOLA.com, 3/22).
LOCAL SUPPORT: ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported that the t-shirts supporting suspended Payton at New Orleans-area store Skip N’ Whistle “were hot sellers.” Store Manager Kristen Romig: “One thing I’m really surprised by is the first day we put them up … they were all local sales and now we’re getting orders from Las Vegas, Hawaii, New York. We’ve even had a few international orders which I think is crazy that so many people are just really affected by this” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 3/22).
NOT THE LONE RANGER: In New Orleans, Mike Triplett noted the Saints “weren’t the only team to be investigated by the NFL for violations of the league's ‘bounty rule’ in recent years.” The Packers were investigated in ‘07 “for lesser infractions and wound up suffering no punishment after agreeing to discontinue their actions.” Clearly the NFL felt the Saints’ violations “were much more egregious” (NOLA.com, 3/22).