by Emir Phillips, MBA/JD/Etc., Novelist + Diehard Saints Fan…
Editor’s Intro: Why is there a diatribe about New Orleans Saints football, crime, and punishment on this site? First, it’s a knee-deep, Mississippi-mud-thick, Tabasco-and-vitriol-infused jambalaya about football, and we love some spicy good writing about the world’s greatest sport. Then, for us marketers, this fan’s rant is a classic example of how one of the most powerful brands in the world, the NFL, is far from being “customer centric.” Customer-centricity is the trendy new strategy favored by almost no one but naïve marketing writers.
As the case of the New Orleans Saints bounty program demonstrates, brands have multiple stakeholders they need to consider. Realizing that it’s impossible to please everyone, the NFL went ahead and pissed some fans off. The strength of a brand can then be measured by how many of those fans stay loyal despite being mad as hell. (And Emir will continue to watch every Saints game this season and beyond.) While you may not agree with a lot of what’s in his post, what matters here is the passion: a sign that a brand has achieved marketing nirvana (beyond sales, of course).
Warning: lots of semi-obscure football, religious, historical and literary allusions ahead, but that’s half the fun of this piece. As they say in New Orleans, laissez les bons temps rouler!
Who can argue that not all sins are created equal?
I have it on Good Authority that The Cheatriots committed a mortal sin and His Saints a venial one. Not only would all the Saints agree with me, but more to the point, so would St. Amani Toomer, a longtime Giants receiver now retired, who said he would place an asterisk next to the Patriots’ three Super Bowl victories. “I would, I definitely would without question,” Toomer said on the Jim Rome Show. “If you know what their adjustments are and what their signals are and you practice those signals, it’s cheating. I feel very strongly about it because this game is as much about the level playing field of the NFL, and the league has built up so much goodwill to let everybody know that what you’re watching is the real deal. The fact that the Spygate thing goes directly to the core that the NFL is, to me it is a big deal.” Some cretins might not see this insight as miraculous, but anyone who doesn’t heretofore refer to Amani as at least Venerable Amani (Blessed seems more accurate to me) is to miss a beatification right before their human eyes.
Undoubtedly, one such cretin with his snout-like parotid glands is our very own Peter King. And to think this nave was named after the King Apostle. Judas Priest would have been much more appropriate. And clearly, screaming occasionally discernible devil music his more suited vocation. He should never have taken those 30 pieces. They rattle when he writes. It bugs me. I am a fly to him.
Oh how glibly Peter King glosses over what the Cheatriots did. Spygate, we called it. The fact is, Coach Bill Belichick’s Patriots were caught red-handed in 2007 secretly taping opponents’ coaches’ hand signals and, presumably, matching them with video cutups of plays in order for New England’s defense to know which offensive play was coming. And on that day, not this one, the NFL FELL.
This systematic affront to the very core of the Spirit of the Game also happened to have violated NFL policy. The Law. And so on Sunday in the dead of night, Goodell fined Belichick the maximum of $500,000, fined the Patriots $250,000 and docked them a first-round draft choice in 2008. “This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field,” Goodell wrote in a letter to the Patriots explaining his disciplinary action. And throughout Boston they did weep… from laughter.
From that “disciplinary” letter, who could foresee Roger Goodell’s head-twirling ghoulish possession by a red-eyed Richard M. Nixon. So much so, that this debacle would conclude with: Spygate=Watergate. Don’t believe me, ask Carl Bernstein. He’d tell you how the Nixonian Commissioner destroyed the evidence, the very tapes that prompted him to levy the punishment. Instead of initiating a Saints-like 50,000-page investigation into Spygate, Nixon had the tapes destroyed. I can hear clearly the justification to erase the tapes: “We have a cancer within, close to the Commish, that is growing.”
One theory (not from Peter King mind you) is that those tapes may have provided such clear evidence of cheating that to be made public would be to forever call in question New England’s three Super Bowl victories. So Goodell erased them — or did Liddy do it? Don Banks? Bob Haldeman perhaps?
Dean: “It is not going to go away, sir!”
Nixon: “It is not going to go away.”
Some say History repeats itself (usually tenured Professors trying to justify their tenure). But in this case…
By destroying the tapes, Roger Goodell is lying by omission. Please read St. Aquinas for further edification. When the NFL is long gone, who knows where in the Inferno Goodell will ultimately reside? Perhaps, only Dante knows. But more to the point, who will light a candle for his Purgatorial release? No Saint that’s for sure. Maybe Coach Belichick can ignite the mystical transformation in which one’s suffering can benefit someone else based on God’s ability to take any negative and turn it into good.
Problem is, Coach Belichick didn’t suffer. Not one iota. Unlike the ineffective “Bounty-system,” cheating worked. It paid off. Thanks to the very man for whom he’s now trying to light a purgatorial candle. Alas, Goodell shall remain in the mire to which he deserves. In fact, henceforth I can actually see our Archbishop publicly forbidding any New Orleanian from lighting a candle for any Cheatriot Fan, dead or alive. Sacrilege takes many forms, and we in NOLA vehemently oppose each one (except during Mardi Gras).
But unlike the Saints, at least good ol’ Coach Belichick didn’t lie. Well, since he didn’t have to endure a 50,000-page investigation, he really didn’t get the chance to strut his administrative dark side. His nasty streak was primarily confined to the Jets and Steelers. Their seasons were the deaths to which all sins flower. But of the two, it was my second favorite team (Terry Bradshaw is from Louisiana) that suffered most from the Dark Shadows of Belichick and Co.
“They definitely cheated!!!” decried Hines Ward, suddenly edified by a Black-and-Gold nimbus and whose opinion, like those of most Steelers involved in the 2001 and 2004 AFC championship games, seethed Apocalyptic Fury at how the Cheatriots won both of those games in Heinz Field solely because they cheated, cheated and more cheated. The Steel Curtain was shredded, impugned and trampled upon by illegal, immoral and nefarious means. (This always happens when Boston Blue-Bloods befriend Red-Headed New Yorkers). And the tapes to evidence this debacle are in ashes, and Peter King has typed it up like some parking ticket. It’s a well-known fact: Peter King does not own a Terrible Towel. Nor should he.
At that point in time, if perceived rightly, America lay in ruins.
And yet there was no Patriotic study on the Cheatriots. But the one on the Saints indicates the Saints were second in the NFL with 17 regular-season defensive flags for violating rules intended to protect players from being hurt, just behind the Oakland Raiders’ 18. The league averaged nine per team (really, who wants to be average?).
Hey stat genius, weren’t the Saints in pass defense much of the time, and didn’t the Saints blitz most? You are much more likely to get called for such flags when blitzing the quarterback and laying out receivers. Admittedly, we had no choice but to be in Pass Defense. You see, we are cursed by the Prince of this World for having the Greatest Offense in Sentient History (angelic and UFO teams included). By angelic, I mean Fallen and Un-Fallen. Thus, the Prince’s envy.
And so despite what a coach might think, it is not always good to always have the lead. Look at the tape of the game in SF where we won twice and lost. Alex Smith was possessed by the Devil in Cleats. Apparently at key times, the Spirit of Joe can be plucked from those Napa wineries. Damn that man. He ruined my childhood, and that of so many others. Jesus in Cleats my foot. But I will say this about Mountain Joe: he wouldn’t have whined about the hits the New Orleanian Favre took. (Kiln, Mississippi is within the cultural gambit of NOLA as with Memphis, Birmingham, Mobile, Little Rock. But for some reason we stop abruptly along the Sabine. I suspect Jerry Jones has something to do with it.)
And to think this entire 50,000-page investigation into the Saints reached critical mass when our beloved Brett Favre got hit on a play that was not penalized, and for which Almighty Goodell did not fine anyone in his Monday Morning Lightning Strikes from Mt. Olympus.
How many other NFL teams could survive a 50,000-page investigation into improper motivation to play aggressive, naughty, nasty, even wrongful (Think Raiders!). Answer: none.
But enough theology many moderns would consider medieval (everyone knows how much I disdain modernity). Peter King says (please genuflect) that Roger Goodell had to send the message out of concern for player safety.
What a crock!
If Goodell cared about player safety, he wouldn’t be pushing for an 18-game season. He wouldn’t have spent last off-season fighting the NFL Players Association on expanding health benefits or limiting “voluntary” off-season workouts. He wouldn’t be promoting Thursday-night games, which will accelerate injuries by giving players a shorter week to heal. Tell me, St. Peter, how honest was the NFL about players’ long-tern injury rates, the concussion epidemic and the history of sending concussed players back into games? Please, Pete, tell all. Only that, and more, could remove your toady status. In fact, when you come to Heaven for our Super Bowl, I hope you choke on the King Cake Baby.
Petra Rex, please parade before us each and every NFL player who was illegally injured by the wayward Saints… None. I thought so. Also, if the hit was illegal, it was flagged. And if particularly egregious, then promptly fined from on high by Roger Goodell. Did Father Zeus miss any illegal hits from the Saints Bounty system that he now deems should have been fined, as opposed to when these alleged criminal hits first occurred? If so, then Roger Goodell is admittedly incompetent in meting out punishment, and needs to delegate such Zeus-ness to someone who can effectuate the rules within 48 hours, and not 3 years. I nominate Sean Payton.
Conveniently enough, Roger Goodell now has decreed that all NFL teams certify they do not have a bounty system. As of today, who couldn’t and wouldn’t? Not even the Devil himself. Why doesn’t Goodell ask for a certification that no bounty system of any sort was in effect since the day the 50,000-page investigation commenced against the small-market Saints? Now that would be honest, even fair. Not gonna happen, is it, Mr. Toady Peter? Your legs would make a great appetizer.
Y’know, on further thought, I really think it was Ernie Adams who destroyed the tapes (mystery man and Director of Research on the Cheatriots who is not a coach, doesn’t really talk to players, but talks to his lifelong friend, Darth, after each practice. They say he sleeps in snowdrifts, fears garlic and is the sole reason coaches talk with mouths unseen during all games.)
And still Peter King bullfrogs Spygate a venial sin. Enough!!!
For disrespecting the Proper Order of Naughtiness in the World, you are hereby consigned to Purgatory unless you…
- Say 50 Hail Marys and mean it…
- Predict the Saints will win the Super Bowl…
- Never-ever disparage the Lord’s Team (America’s Team may reside in Dallas, but the Saints reside in the City That Care Forgot as an Incarnation)…
- And order Drew Brees to take the $90 million over 5 years, since his value is in relation to the Salary Cap and not the Federal Government’s ability to print money.
If Drew can’t live off the $250 million he will make from NOLA in pay and endorsements by the end of his career, then he is either a scalawag from Texas or a carpet-bagger from Purdue. This part of my diatribe is erased from print and from the Akashic record if Drew comes to his senses and takes St. Loomis’ offer. And to think I was in love with that 5’11 man.
By now, isn’t it going much too far to assume the New Orleans Saints are a dirty team on defense or otherwise?
In fact, the defense has been porous for years. We compulsively blitz because prepubescent zombies pass-rush more ferociously than our front four. Don’t believe me, ask Vernon Davis.
But enough denigration of the Saint’s defense. Let’s cut through the cannoli: truth is, not one single solitary NFL team could withstand a 50,000-page investigation as to whether they improperly motivated players to hurt players from the opposing team. For some reason, I kept thinking of Conrad Dobler. And he played offense!
Peter, you have glibly asserted that Roger Goodell’s friendship with Bob Kraft would amount to no more than buying him the first rounds of drinks. That relationship would have to be acknowledged in a Court of Law and would no doubt trigger an effective recusal motion.
But justice and legal procedure don’t have a lot in common — just look at the appellate process Coach Payton must undergo. Who can deny that Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Dennis Rader, David Berkowitz, Gary Ridgway, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, Coral Eugene Watts, Dean Corll, Richard Angelo, Albert Firsh, Eddie Gein, Belle Gunness, Angel Maturino Resendiz, Derrick Todd Lee, John Allen Muhammad and Herman Webster Mudgett all belong to en extremely elite Hall of Fame? Each and every one of them without exception received more effective Due Process than Coach Sean Payton, aka: Lord and Protector against Nefarious Souls who would try to take the team Elsewhere (like San Antonio).
And by way, the Saints are not innocent, but let any other team sinless of any sort of Bounty-system cast the first stone… publicly. Yeah, I didn’t think so.
In the end, it is clear that to give up coaching is what Big Brother wanted from Winston Smith all along.
His spirit broken, Winston is released to the outside world. A year later, Winston meets NOLA but no longer feels anything for her. He has accepted the Party entirely and has learned to love Big Brother.
Or is this a ruse? For Winston also seems fixated on a powerful Party member named Parcells, whom Winston believes is a secret member of the Brotherhood — the mysterious, legendary group that works to overthrow the Party for whom Don Banks and Peter King re-write their History, so eloquently denying that football is inherently a violent game and that 99.99% of its worst injuries take place within the rules of game (just ask Pierre Thomas). I won’t even discuss the multi-million dollar incentive clauses DEs have to sack the QB. What’s $1000 when sack #10 is worth $1,000,000.00? But who discloses these salient facts? Where’s Bob Woodward when you need him?
But when it comes to yellow journalism, Don Banks and Peter King can’t compete with the scion of William Randoph Heart: Roger Goodell. In order to enable a better legal defense against the Concussion Class Action Lawsuits and deliver to the owners their billions via the 18-game season, Roger Goodell has donned the wig and rouge to hoodwink us into believing his Unholy Sanctions against the Saints, new and improved helmets, and some high-tech padding by the NFL empowers players to engage in the violent game of football WITH NO ILL CONSEQUENCE.
This multi-billion dollar deception (mortal sin) cost the Saints dearly, and will cost the Players when they take their millions, while the owners pocket their billions.
When you get old, you think you might pass the time by meeting an NFL player in your convalescent home. Given the shortened lifespan of elite athletes, not to mention NFL players, one can almost guarantee that such a meeting will be more rare than an honest NFL Commissioner.
I doubt you will reply to this Peter, since censorship takes many forms. One of which is: toady-ism. H.L. Mencken would agree with me on this.
Not yours, although truly,
Ignatius J. Reilly
(Who Dat member #43384903849317510292305490579573928. The burdensome numberage is a direct result of an active fan base existent in this world and the next.)
P.S. We are invincible. We actually live and breathe beneath the waterline, and our dead parade themselves above land, encaved beautifully. For all to see there they wait. For those who have faith, this is a transition, not an end. Sean Payton is nothing but a grain of wheat fallen to the earth. This will all bear much fruit.
Editor’s Update 4/2/12: Emir isn’t the only New Orleanian who’s upset. “Free Sean Payton” T-shirts are being seen on everyone from Jimmy Buffett to roadside vendors. As I noted above about passion, the scandal is actually leading to more ticket sales. In other words, Saints fans are pissed off at the NFL, and they’re showing their anger… by buying more tickets. Guess who wins? Now, who’s reporting all this? Emir’s favorite writer, Peter King, of course. In addition to the reports from New Orleans, King discusses the history of violence and bounties in the NFL.