NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell slammed the New Orleans Saints this week with unprecedented sanctions related to their use of bounties from 2009-2011. As a result the team faces a 2012 season with substitutes at head coach and general manager, and who knows how many players will be punished before this thing plays out.
One of the end results of these penalties, I believe, is that teams like the Eagles now have a golden opportunity to take advantage of a severely wounded contender.
The Saints are annually guaranteed a postseason berth. However, it could be difficult for them to compete at a consistently high level after taking so many direct hits in key areas. Im a big Drew Brees fan, so maybe he can steady a sinking ship, but if Im putting money it, Im betting the field. Brees is great, but hell have to be superhuman.
In my opinion, Mr. Goodell made one important error even as he lowered the boom. He didnt go far enough in making certain the Saints heinous activities would have an eternal effect on any other coach that would dare institute aimed at crippling opposing players. The Commissioner should have stripped New Orleans of its lone Super Bowl title, won in 2010.
If necessary, Mr. Goodell should have driven from the Big Apple to the Bayou himself, walked into Tom Bensons headquarters and extracted said hardware from said trophy case (or wherever it is they keep the Lombardi). Now, that would have been impressive.
And, in an indirect way, it would have thrust anotherof this off-seasons main subjects back into the spotlight.
The Saints won their Super Bowl against the Colts, so stripping them of the prize would have made Peyton Manning a two-time champion. Just like his brother, Eli. That would have been a fine showing of brotherly love. Which brings me back to Philadelphia.
Six teams make the postseason in the NFC. If continuity counts for something, then the Eagles have an significant upper-hand on the Saints. But, gaining that advantage is something they had no control over. If they can master the areas they do control, then the 2012 season should give Andy Reid, Howie Roseman and their team an edge on at least one contender that has lost its way.
E-mail Ron Burke at firstname.lastname@example.org.