Posted: Friday January 13, 2006 4:40PM; Updated: Friday January 13, 2006 4:40PM
Many critiques came postmarked from the Bayou. Al in New Orleans rightfully calls me out for not featuring Tom Benson more prominently in the argument: "It's Benson who's desperate to move the team from New Orleans. Meanwhile the league has been pushing him back to New Orleans -- even going so far as to subsidize them while the team resides there. Nearly everything Benson has done (from attacking cameramen to shooting off e-mails and to claiming the practice facility was unusable) has slowly eroded the fanbase."
My fave came from Steven Mart of Baton Rouge, who compares a move from Green Bay to New Orleans "like going from North Korea to Cuba. The people look and talk different but your still in big trouble."
Neal DeRuyter of Kitchener, Ontario, thinks the Saints woes could be easily resolved by taking Matt Leinart second in this year's draft. "Favre is a one-year solution while Leinart could provide stability on a long-term basis to a team with an uncertain future," he writes. True enough, but a couple things to keep in mind here: 1) Tennessee has the No. 3 pick and might not want to take a chance on losing Leinart (who'd be reunited with his offensive coordinator from USC, Norm Chow) to the Saints. 2) New Orleans needs some fresh bodies and is unlikely to land many via free agency. An extra pick or two in the draft could go a long way toward filling out that roster. Then again if Favre signs on...
I kid, I kid -- and occasionally the jokes don't fall flat. One of my better routines was a mock draft rating the various basketball talents of select characters from the Hundred Aker Wood. The idea spawned not from my mind but the mouth of Stephen A. Smith, who during last year's NBA draft asserted on-camera that the New Orleans Hornets "could pick Winnie the Pooh, and there'd be nowhere to go but up." The same is apparently true of my mocked mock, which a South Bend, Ind., reader who goes by the handle "Goofball" was kind enough to herald as "one of the most important articles on sports ever." Such is the life of a blogger. So Goof took the liberty of drawing up a second draftboard (which can be found here). Our first (Tigger) and last (Piglet) picks are the same, but there's a awful lot of movement in the middle. There's even an eighth pick to make room at No. 2 for Kanga, described there "older, fully developed" in comparison to her son, Roo, who I took wit the third pick. The take on Eeyore (there, taken sixth overall) was priceless: "I see [him] being like Arvydas Sabonis."
The Atlanta Hawks would select Sabonis in the first fourth round of the 1984 draft, but the pick was later disallowed because Sabonis (then 21) was a year too young to be a draft-eligible international player. But if the pick stood, Billy Hunter (were he the GM at the time) likely would have traded him -- or so the refrain goes in Atlanta. David writes in from the A: "Why do the Hawks give away the good players? Jason Terry, Rasheed Wallace..."
Well David, because I'm all about going to the mat for my readers, I decided to take your question directly to the source. Back in November, I was in Phoenix for Sports Illustrated. I was grabbing a quick bite in the America West Arena media room when I noticed Knight settling into a bowl of chicken noodle before his Hawks tipped off against the Suns. So I sidled over, introduced myself, and cozied up for a chat. After about a minute and a half of small talk, I got the onions to ask your question.
He let the spoon drop into the bowl. "Tell your reader that's a dumb question," he bristled. "We're a young team. We're building."
Needless to say, Dave, your question killed the mood. I tried my best to recover. Talked about the weather, his plans for the rest of the week, Salim Stoudamire -- anything to break the bad mood. And just when things started to improve, our attentions turned to a Suns owner Robert Sarver, who was on TV ripping former Suns Joe Johnson.
"He knew he was going to a bad team," Sarver said. "He didn't go there because he was going to a good team. He went there because he wanted to be close to home and he wanted to be the top guy. He wanted to be the ballhandler and the playmaker and was tired of sitting in the corner getting Steve Nash's passes."
So what has this inaugural installation of the mailbag taught us? The Bears will win, New Orleans can't lose (with Favre), and that -- one way or another -- I'll answer pretty much any question lobbed my way. Just as long as you ask nicely.