saints (n.) - NFL franchise presently based in New Orleans; boondoggle (n.) - an unnecessary or wasteful project or activity; saintsdoggle (n.) - the Saints' potential relocation situation in New Orleans, and the resulting boondoggle by Louisiana to keep the team from leaving

Friday, December 16, 2005

S.A. paper skews truth; Fielkow speaks; DeShazier pens great column; Benson slammed yet again; Mortensen: Ultimate Saints destination is L.A.

On Thursday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that a meeting between NFLPA president Gene Upshaw and Saints players resulted in a general belief that the team will return to Louisiana for the entirety of the 2006 campaign.

The San Antonio Express-News, however, has a completely different take.

Today, the Express-News ran a story today by Mike Finger, entitled "Saints' future like the present: no easy answers." The article paints a picture largely favorable to San Antonio and Tom Benson.

Finger wrote that the Saints' meeting with Upshaw was "contentious and largely unproductive," and because of that, players were "reaching new frustration levels."

Of course, that has nothing to do with Finger's own admission that national media is swelling to see "an NFL team with no home, with a tent for a weight room, with a high-school baseball stadium for locker rooms."

All while a "pristene" (courtesy ABC's Al Michaels) and "first class" (courtesy NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue) training facility sits unused in Metairie, contrary to Benson's bent beliefs.

Finger affirmed a heavily discussed story involving Benson telling his staff in San Antonio that New Orleans was "unlivable":
"Benson has told his staff that a return to Louisiana isn't possible, saying the state doesn't have the infrastructure to support the Saints while it recovers from Hurricane Katrina."
Finger further notes the blatantly obvious:
"Benson, who already has severed ties with many employees who were in favor of staying in New Orleans, is pushing to keep the team based in San Antonio and to play home games in the Alamodome, which is keeping most of its fall 2006 weekends open to accommodate the team."
And obviously, the San Antonio Express-News is doing its part for Benson by skewing the truth.

The paper has failed to point out that the aforementioned meeting between Saints players and Upshaw resulted in numerous comments indicating that the NFLPA is advocating (and Saints players are expecting) a full return to Louisiana for a split schedule solely between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. (See here for that paper's only other report on the Upshaw meeting.)

Heck, Upshaw himself was on ESPN Radio yesterday, saying that there could be four games in New Orleans based upon Superdome repair projections. This goes along with the Saints' players statements in the Times-Picayune that the NFLPA was hoping for four games in the Superdome and four in Tiger Stadium.

It's a solution to the Saints' chief concern: not having a central home base next season.

Upshaw has noted that the team's Metairie training facility is in great shape. It beats the hell out of, quoting Finger again, "an NFL team with no home, with a tent for a weight room, with a high-school baseball stadium for locker rooms."

(Again, for photos of the training facility in its present state, see here.)

And, Upshaw told ESPN Radio that Saints players are frustrated due to a lack of leadership in the front office.

Perhaps (again quoting Finger) that's why the team is "reaching new frustration levels" and players are so "contentious"?

But then again, what do we expect? The paper is based in a city whose vulturous leaders have continued to willfully slither to a new disgusting low in courting Benson, truth and righteousness be damned.

Well, not technically. But Arnold Fielkow (ex-Saints VP fired by Benson for his pro-New Orleans stance) did write an amazing must-read op-ed for today's Times-Picayune, entitled "Team Players: Our economy, and our hearts, need the Saints."

In it, Fielkow writes,
"The Metairie training facility is ready; players' doctor's offices, clinics and hospitals are open, and even the players' hotel is operating. Everything may not be perfect, but it is certainly better than the nomadic existence in San Antonio that so many players and staff have complained about."
Fielkow effectively chips away at Benson's statements that New Orleans is "unlivable" and appeals to Benson to have the Saints "truly be 'Saints' and do the right thing for our community."

It appears Fielkow will continue to be a great advocate for New Orleans, and a tremendous thorn in Benson's side.

Today's Times-Picayune features a great piece by John DeShazier, entitled "Bringing Saints back to N.O. is right thing to do."

In it, DeShazier writes:
"As much as Saints owner Tom Benson has made it obvious he wants the team's stay in San Antonio to be an extended one, it's a no-brainer that the Saints should begin and end the 2006 season in New Orleans. Practicing at the team's training facility in Metairie, playing a split schedule (if need be) at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and the Superdome. ...

"The coaching staff and players are unanimous in their desire to be in one place the entire season, to again have all the trappings and comforts that accompany being an NFL franchise after being shuffled from city to city, flying to play five home games and eight road games, being shoved out of the Alamodome and into a high school locker room in favor of the NCAA volleyball championships and the Alamo Bowl.

"The only 'indignity' they'll suffer from practicing in Metairie and playing in Baton Rouge is the bus ride to home games."
DeShazier also calls on players who have no home-grown ties to Louisiana to voice support for such a return, given the lack of insufficient facilities and required travel that a split schedule involving San Antonio would necessitate.

And the hits just keep on coming, this time from Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice.

Justice, in a piece about the Texans, its owner Bob McNair, and his newest hire Dan Reeves, writes near the end of the story:
"This is about you showing this city you're more Bob Kraft than Tom Benson."
The clear reason for this is that Kraft, the Patriots' owner, is the absolute best in the NFL, while Benson is on the total opposite end of the spectrum.

And Tommy Boy is well on his way to anointing himself (through his actions) the worst owner in professional sports history.

ESPN NFL reporter Chris Mortensen writes on his ESPN Insider page (to which I do not have access) that he believe the Saints' ultimate destination will be Los Angeles, and presumably (based on the ESPN NFL front page linking to the Mortensen story) that current USC coach Pete Carroll could be the coach in such a scenario. Check it out if you're an Insider...


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