Saints fallout, Tannehill workouts get top billing as draft nears
Saints fans are rallying around their team in the wake of the NFL suspensions
Eagles, Chiefs will work out the increasingly in-demand Ryan Tannehill this week
Remembering George Anderson; thoughts on the Jason Peters injury, more
Two headlines of the morning. Can't figure out which I like more, so I'll give you both.
New Orleans is getting really ticked off about the bounty sanctions on the Saints, and fans are responding with their wallets.
The Eagles are winging their way to Texas to work out Ryan Tannehill today. Hmmmm.
Jimmy Buffett did a concert last night on the waterfront in New Orleans. He wore a "Free Sean Payton'' T-shirt. He dedicated his first song to his friend and Saints head coach Payton: "Sitting Here in Limbo."
There is a town lots of New Orleans-area residents go to when they want to fish, Delacroix, La. It was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. On the side of the road in Delacroix Sunday morning, as some of the fishermen left camps to return home, a woman with a tent was selling something. As the cars got closer, the drivers could see she was selling "Free Sean Payton'' T-shirts.
Outside the Superdome Sunday afternoon, about 30 locals gathered to protest NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's year-long suspension of Payton. One carried a sign reading, "Go to hell Goodell." Several wore T-shirts that read: "Quit hatin' on my boy Payton."
The Saints had two $100,000-plus suites available for the 2012 season as of the middle of March. Within 24 hours after the league's sanctions of the Saints were announced, both suites were sold. In addition, the Saints ticket office, in the three days after the sanctions were announced, had more than 150 callers asking to buy season tickets, with most saying they were doing it to show support for the team in the wake of the league's sanctions. None were available, the callers were told, but we can add you to our waiting list if you want. Add us to the waiting list, virtually every caller said.
There's a groundswell of anger in New Orleans, from what I can tell. Where it'll lead, I don't know. But I know New Orleans. It's not going to go away, regardless of how Goodell rules in the four appeals he must consider beginning Tuesday.
The Super Bowl is in New Orleans this season. Remember the booing Goodell got at the NFL Draft last year? That could sound charitable compared to the reception he could hear in New Orleans during Super Bowl week.
Eagles/Tannehill ... and, for that matter, Chiefs/Tannehill.
A contingent of Philadelphia Eagles will be in College Station, Texas, today for a private workout with quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
"I don't really know why,'' Tannehill told me Saturday night. "I'll just get ready to throw for them and do my best.''
Fact is, this is the time of year -- 24 days before Round 1 -- when teams buzz from town to town to get their drafting ducks in a row. The Eagles working out Tannehill could just be Philly doing its due diligence on a good player. That's what it probably is. But with the Eagles and quarterbacks, you never know. It could be more. The Eagles wouldn't seem to have a quarterback need, with Michael Vick set to play the season at 32, and the Eagles wouldn't seem to have the ammo to move up from their 15th spot in the first round -- without including their 2013 first-rounder -- to get their talons on a quarterback who might be picked as high as fourth (by Cleveland).
By the way, Matt Cassel's head shouldn't rest too easy on the pillow tonight either. The Chiefs travel to College Station later this week to get their own private session with Tannehill.
More from Tannehill shortly. Now for the remnants of the NFL meetings, and looking ahead to the Kiperization of our lives over the next three-plus weeks:
The Ten Things I Learned at the NFL Meetings (and Beyond)
1. If Roger Goodell is talking about changing the culture of the league, he should start with some NFL Network programming. Last Monday afternoon, a few hours after Goodell addressed owners for the first time since the Saints bounty scandal broke, the in-room TVs in The Breakers, a resort where the annual meetings were being held, aired something curious. On NFL Network, The Top 10 Most Feared Tacklers was on the TV in the 5 p.m. hour.
Number five on the list was a linebacker from the '50s, Hardy Brown, who played the prime of his career with the 49ers. A thin, 6-foot Texan, Brown perfected nailing blockers and ballcarriers in the open field with shoulder shots, knocking out more than his share in a 10-season career. Brown was shown making several brutal shots -- legal, but brutal -- and then he appeared on camera. Very matter-of-factly in the NFL Network piece (produced by NFL Films), he talked about the Rams putting a $500 bounty on him.
"The Rams had a $500 deal for my getting knocked out of the game,'' said Brown, who was not specific about which year it was. "The guy that told me was [Rams back] Paul Barry. I said, 'Paul, hit me and I'll fake it, and we'll split it, $250 apiece.' '' The segment wasn't quite glorifying the bounty aspect. But Brown told the story with a bit of a smirk, as though he was reveling in it.
On the first full day of the league meetings in which the shadow of the Saints bounty scandal touched everything -- and a day after league counsel Jeff Pash reiterated to me that Goodell was out to change the part of the culture of the league that reveled in violent and gratuitous hits -- NFL Network had a four-minute chunk of a program painting a player as proud that he was deserving of the other team putting a bounty on him, and matter-of-factly discussing it in an interview with the NFL's house filmmaker. If I'm the Saints, I'm searching YouTube today for the Brown segment, and I'm showing it when I appeal the league's sanctions. Wait -- I found it.
2. The Saints are not going down quietly, while Gregg Williams just might. Williams is still considering his options whether to appeal his indefinite suspension; the deadline is today. I don't know if he'll appeal, but smart money says he won't, in the hopes that by following the NFL's path to redemption by being an anti-bounty and pro-fair-play spokesman for the league, he'll get reinstated following the 2012 season and be able to coach, he hopes with the Rams, in 2013.
Sean Payton is appealing his year-long suspension, and Saints GM Mickey Loomis his eight-game ban, and defensive assistant Joe Vitt his six-gamer, and the Saints their $500,000 fine and loss of two second-round draft picks. I can't imagine Payton has evidence to present in his defense that Goodell hasn't heard in their two face-to-face meetings already. But maybe Goodell could be persuaded to soften the team punishment, given two factors: Williams doesn't work there anymore and -- since the league has absolved owner Tom Benson of any wrongdoing -- the loss of the draft choices hurts the team over the long haul when the team has already incurred the biggest collective sanction in NFL history.
3. This Saints crisis won't do much to bring the team and Drew Brees closer together. It would be na´ve to say Loomis won't budge in his negotiations with agent Tom Condon over a new contract for Brees. He'll budge. But not very much. Loomis, I doubt, has any mandate from Benson to get the Brees deal done so the franchise can have some sort of good news amid all the recent bad news.
4. Bill Parcells will likely take the coaching job for the next nine months if Benson offers it to him, and if the terms are right. Parcells, who turns 71 this summer, could go on with his part-time ESPN job, and spend the summer in Saratoga at the racetrack. But I think if he could have one year of pressing the buttons with a Super Bowl contender, subbing in for a good friend (Payton), he thinks there are too many advantages to that to turn down.
I read the item Sunday on ProFootballTalk.com, saying in essence that the coaches on the staff wouldn't take kindly to an interloper who doesn't know the team, and I don't doubt it's true. But this is a unique situation in pro football history. I'd be stunned if defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the only non-sanctioned staffer who's been an NFL head coach before, didn't accept Parcells openly. But we'll see.
Parcells history interlude:
Remembering when Parcells quit, or said he was done, is always a fun thing when he seems to be taking the whistle and clipboard out of the closet to coach again. Going back in history four times:
Jan. 21, 1993:
"This is my last coaching job, without question.''
-- Parcells, upon taking his second head-coaching job, in New England.
Jan. 3, 2000:
"I'm not going to coach any more football games. This definitely is the end of my coaching career.''
-- Parcells, resigning as the head coach of the New York Jets.
Jan. 11, 2002:
"You can write this on your little chalkboard -- I'm not coaching again.''
-- Parcells, after spurning an offer from Tampa Bay to succeed Tony Dungy.
Jan. 22, 2007:
"I'm retiring from coaching football ... It's time to stop. I just have to let it go.''
-- Parcells, announcing he would not return to coach the Dallas Cowboys.
I'm noticing a pattern here. Maybe Parcells should discipline himself to just never be quoted in the month of January again.