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

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

CG Mock Draft No. 2 (Top 10 only)

After hearing more and more news (and seeing the smoke begin to clear), here's how I see the top 10 shaking out Saturday:

1. Houston Texans - Reggie Bush, RB, USC - Don't believe the Mario Williams versus Bush hype. The Texans shrewdly changed the debate in Houston from Vince-or-Reggie to Mario-or-Reggie, making a Bush selection far more palatable for locals clamoring for Vince in red and blue. The team made its mind up long ago, and it'll be made official soon. Great pick, by the way. The guy will be a bona fide star.

2. New Orleans Saints - D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia - Again, don't believe the hype on Mario. Poor guy's getting used more than a two-dollar hooker. The Saints need the Brick to shore up the line for Brees, and that need surpasses anything else available to them at this spot.

3. Tennessee Titans
- Vince Young, QB, Texas - Word is that the Titans brass are far higher on Vince than on Matt Leinart. No word on whether that has anything to do with the fact that owner Bud Adams (who I believe still resides in Houston) still wants to stick it to Houston. Nothing would make Texans fans cringe more than to see Vince against them twice a year as a hated Titan. And that might be the biggest edge Vince has here.

4. New York Jets - Mario Williams, DE, NC State - Again, it comes down to the best available player also filling a team need. The Jets traded John Abraham, and Mario would be a great fit here. They'll need him, too, because the offense won't score too many points.

5. Green Bay Packers - AJ Hawk, LB, Ohio State - Well, Brett Favre is coming back. He won't be happy with this pick because it doesn't help the offense, but the team won't pass up Hawk over a tight end like Vernon Davis, because they already have Bubba Franks. Again, I think Hawk will be the bust of the top 10. Enjoy your farewell season, Brett...

6. San Francisco 49ers - Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland - The team needs a playmaker for QB Alex Smith. Here ya go.

7. Oakland Raiders - Matt Leinart, QB, USC - - Because you can't have Aaron Brooks as your sure-fire top QB. And because Leinart is a huge celebrity in southern California.

8. Buffalo Bills
- Brodrick Bunkley, DT, Florida St. - Again, I have no idea who the Bills should take. I'll switch out one DT for another. Good luck with that.

9. Detroit Lions - Michael Huff, DB, Texas - Safe pick, great player, will be an instant starter.

10. Arizona Cardinals - Jay Cutler, QB, Vanderbilt - Because Kurt Warner is as fragile as Glass Joe's jaw on Mike Tyson's Punchout.


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LA push for NFL to peak next week; Are the Chargers the team?

Several media outlets including the L.A. Daily News are reporting that officials from Los Angeles will make their pitch to an NFL committee early next week in Dallas for at least one franchise to relocate to their city.

According to the Daily News, the itenerary is as follows:
1. An 11-member committee of National Football League owners is to meet Monday and Tuesday to hear presentations from Los Angeles, Anaheim and Pasadena on locating a team in their cities.

2. The committee is scheduled to submit a recommendation to the owners of all 32 franchises when they meet May 21 in Denver.

3. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Tuesday that he expects the owners to make a decision at either their May meeting or at another set for October.
The Daily News also quoted Tagliabue to say, "We're at a defining moment. It's time to make a decision - whether it's up or down. The owners are making a decision and it's their investment. It's their vote."

Given all the effort put into making this happen, and Tagliabue's previous assertions that returning to L.A. was a goal of the NFL, expect that the owners will give a thumbs-up to the L.A. proposal.

If that happens, you can fully anticipate a rumbling from fans of a handful of teams this summer or fall as to which franchise will make the move.

Of course, as the story points out, it is entirely possible that two franchises could relocate to Los Angeles. However, the likelihood of this happening, and both franchises playing in the same stadium, are low in my opinion.

This is because it's blatantly obvious that the Coliseum (after remodeling) is the clear front-runner to be cleared to host an NFL franchise. And, with USC still playing football there as its home stadium, it would make field upkeep practically impossible with three teams playing on the same turf.

Of course, they could install field turf or something of that nature there. But I don't see that happening.

In any event, it is highly likely that one present franchise will be packing its bags in the very near future. Who could it be?

I think the leader now is San Diego. The Chargers' stadium lease is probably going to expire and the team likely will be granted freedom to negotiate a new lease anywhere else in the country. L.A. would be a perfect fit.

Of course, the Saints are up on the list too, given the league's uncertainty surrounding the future of New Orleans - in spite of Tagliabue's extensive dedications to keeping the Saints in the Superdome. Jacksonville could also be on the chopping block, as could Buffalo.

But the leader in my eyes for the moment is San Diego. Which should be outstanding news for Saints fans if that is the case.


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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Chargers take lead in running for L.A. spot; Of course, S.A. is interested

According to this article on, San Diego's mayor has told the city that it cannot afford to help pay for a new stadium for the Chargers, and that the team may be able to be freed from its lease with San Diego County by Jan. 1, 2007.

Through an amended lease the city will be considering, the team will have through the end of the year to seek a new lease with another location in San Diego County. After that point, however, the team would be free to negotiate a deal anywhere in the country.

This naturally includes Los Angeles, where the NFL will likely place a present franchise before the end of the decade.

And, of course, San Antonio has invited the Chargers to play in the Alamodome. (No word on whether they're waiting for an earthquake to devastate San Diego before taking in that city's team. Or whether S.A. mayor Phil Hardberger got the memo that the NFL doesn't want a team permanently residing in his city.)

So, at least for the moment, the Saints may have taken a back seat to another franchise in the NFL's quest for Los Angeles. (Of course, keep in mind that NFL commish Paul Tagliabue has stated that L.A. could house two teams. Stay vigilant and supportive, Saints fans...)

That, along with the return of New Orleans' only Fortune 500 headquarters to the CBD (Entergy), makes for a good week's worth of news for Saints fans.


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Friday, April 21, 2006

CG Mock Draft No. 1 (at least the top 10)

Okay, since the NFL draft is finally getting somewhat close, I thought I'd throw out my own mock draft for the first 12 picks:

1. Houston Texans - Reggie Bush, RB, USC - Forget all you've read about the Texans taking DE Mario Williams, or trading the pick, or whatever. Bush will be a Texan come draft day. He's the top prospect to come out in the last decade. His college highlights are on par with those of Barry Sanders. The guy is special, and he'll be showing his skills in Reliant Stadium for years to come.

2. New Orleans Saints - D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia - This pick just makes too much sense for the Saints. Why take Matt Leinart when you just signed Drew Brees to a big contract? Why take Mario Williams when you have quality guys like Will Smith at the same spot? The Saints just traded away their starting left tackle, and the Brick is a perfect slide-in for that spot. Plus, he'll help protect the Brees investment and create holes for a rejuvenated (hopefully) Deuce McAllister.

3. Tennessee Titans - Matt Leinart, QB, USC - The Titans are getting a QB in this draft, period. It's either Leinart, Vince Young, or Jay Cutler. Leinart would be a perfect fit for ex-USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow's offensive scheme, plus head coach Jeff Fisher has USC ties of his own. Young wouldn't fit here because of the situation with Steve McNair. Since McNair is Young's mentor, and with the Titans-McNair relationship in the toilet, bringing in McNair's protege just wouldn't make sense.

4. New York Jets - Mario Williams, DE, NC State - Why Williams? Because the Jets have signed two QBs already, and they traded away John Abraham in the offseason. Williams would be a perfect fit there. Of course, no matter who the Jets pick, Jets fans will be miffed and you'll hear some boos.

5. Green Bay Packers - AJ Hawk, LB, Ohio State - The Packers are headed for a rebuilding, and Hawk seems to be their guy from what I've read. I'd also go ahead a nd note that I don't think Brett Favre is coming back. He's waiting for some wholesale changes to make a last run at a Super Bowl, but current management just doesn't want to buy a year by mortgaging the next five. I'll also add that I think Hawk is the bust of the top 10. He is the second coming of Andy Katzenmoyer.

6. San Francisco 49ers - Vernon Davis, TE, Maryland - One of the biggest potential playmakers of the draft goes to a team that needs something to help last year's top pick, QB Alex Smith. Davis could be the next Antonio Gates. Or he could be the next Ben Watson.

7. Oakland Raiders - Vince Young, QB, Texas - I think Vince Young has a lot of potential to be great; of course, he also could be the next Aaron Brooks. Which is bad, since that'll be who he learns from as a Raider. Young has some great athletic gifts, but was in a college system that usually doesn't translate well in the pros. He's also got a sidearm delivery, happy feet and a tendency to force throws he shouldn't. But - he also possesses some great leadership intangibles, and a solid work ethic. If he does develop into a strong QB, he'll be tough to stop with RB Lamont Jordan and WRs Randy Moss and Jerry Porter at his disposal.

8. Buffalo Bills - Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon - I guess the Bills could use a defensive tackle here. Honestly, I don't know much about the Bills other than they need help. And I don't know much about Ngata either. A toss up no matter how you slice it.

9. Detroit Lions - Michael Huff, CB, Texas - No word yet on whether Matt Millen will convert Huff to WR, since he always seems to take a WR in the top 10. (Which is probably why he always has a pick in the top 10.) Jokes aside, Huff is a solid, quality player who would be a great addition to any defensive backfield.

10. Arizona Cardinals - Jay Cutler, QB, Vanderbilt - What, you think Kurt Warner is going to make it though the season without an injury? Cutler could be the heir apparent to a potentially explosive offense, featuring new addition Edgerrin James alongside WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.


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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bills set to stay in Buffalo; How does it impact the Saints?

With most Saints fans' eyes focused on the upcoming NFL draft, the prospects of a franchise relocation are still running amiss in the background.

After much vocal criticism was heard from Buffalo on a potential Bills' relocation, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue traveled there and reassured Bills fans that the team was going nowhere, according to this piece on

The concern centers on the new NFL labor agreement, and its impact on small-market teams. Bills owner Ralph Wilson had been extremely concerned that after he passes away, the next owner would be forced to move the Bills to a larger market due to the profit-sharing model accepted by the owners earlier this year.

Tagliabue told reporters, "What we're striving to do is focus not just on the Buffalo Bills but on all the small market teams," and specifically noted Jacksonville, Kansas City, and Green Bay.

One team he did not specify is the New Orleans Saints. That could, of course, be a very minor oversight, but it is worth noting.

It's no secret that Buffalo has supported the Bills tremendously through the years, and Wilson absolutely does not want the team relocated anywhere.

Wilson's attitude is in stark contract to that of Tom Benson, who was negotiating a move to San Antonio just a few months ago, and was openly criticising the Saints fan base prior to Hurricane Katrina.

Buffalo is on some people's lists of teams that could relocate to Los Angeles, as per the NFL's stated goal. Other teams include Jacksonville, San Diego, and New Orleans.

If Buffalo is a no-go, it increases the odds that the Saints could find a new zip code before the end of the decade.

And here's something else to chew on - if the Saints decide to draft ex-USC QB Matt Leinart, and keep him, the writing is on the wall in permanent marker.


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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Ferrell: Saints still could move to L.A.

I know, I know - Easter Sunday is an odd time to make a post about the Saints. But nevertheless, here goes:

Shreveport Times columnist Scott Ferrell has an intriguing piece in today's edition, entitled "Here is some reality to mix with Saints' hopes". In it, Ferrell notes that in spite of the NFL's commitment to the Saints, there exists a very real possibility that the team may relocate to Los Angeles in coming years.

In spite of an NFL-endorsed regionalized approach to building the fan base (and goodwill for some alienated by Tom Benson's antics last fall), Ferrell quotes Gary Roberts, deputy dean of Tulane's law school and a person with tremendous sports law knowledge, as follows:
"Frankly, I cannot imagine in the long term the Saints being in New Orleans. How many years that is, I don't know. But the Saints were at a high risk of leaving before the storm. Now, the situation is far more precarious than before...My gut guess is that some number of years down the road, maybe five, six, seven years, the Saints will be playing in Los Angeles. The NFL is working hard to get a stadium deal done in L.A. and once that is done and in place, they are going to need a team to go there and it seems to me the Saints are the prime choice."
Of course, much will be determined this fall with how the Saints are supported in New Orleans.

So, as always, we shall see what happens.


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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tags wants maybe two teams in L.A.; NFL to review L.A. sites May 2; NBC's Ebersol supports L.A. move; Saints fans happy about team's return home

While the attention presently is focused on the upcoming NFL Draft and the 2006 season, Saints fans should stay aware of the behind-the-curtain ongoings on a possible franchise move to Los Angeles.

Bob Mathews of the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle reports that outgoing NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue is on record as saying he'd like one or two NFL franchises in Los Angeles, adding that expansion is not an option.

The concern is rampant in Buffalo circles that the Bills may be near the top of the list of L.A. candidates. Bills owner Ralph Wilson is voicing his perspective that he's having a tough time competing in such a small market, and that he may need state subsidies to remain competitive. Sound familiar?

With that, Billy Witz of the L.A. Daily News - a highly informed source of the NFL-to-L.A. situation - notes that representatives from the three main stadium sites in the Los Angeles area will make presentations to Tagliabue and a group of 11 NFL owners on May 2 in Dallas.

The primary two candidates, the Coliseum and a new Anaheim location, are set for one hour presentations. A Pasadena rep also will be present to advise as to the status of a lagging-behind Rose Bowl proposal, though it's expected that the real choice will be between the other two sites.

After that, there will be an NFL owners meeting on May 22-23 in Denver. At that meeting, Tagliabue desires to select an official stadium site for a present NFL franchise to inhabit as a new home.

In a different L.A. Daily News article, Witz reports that NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol sees an NFL franchise in Los Angeles as "very, very important."

Ebersol's input is interesting given that NBC just signed on to a substantial broadcasting agreement with the NFL for the Sunday night games this fall. As an aside, the network also has brought aboard perhaps the best game broadcasting group in the league, including John Madden and Al Michaels in the booth and Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth and Jerome "The Bus" Bettis at the network studio.

Witz further notes that the central candidates for relocation to L.A. include the Bills, Jaguars, Vikings, Chargers, and...the Saints.

Tagliabue, of course, has been extremely supportive of keeping the Saints in New Orleans. In fact, if it weren't for him, Tom Benson would have moved them to San Antonio last fall after Katrina.

Now, with Tagliabue on the precipice of retirement, and with two stated commitments - keeping the Saints in New Orleans, and getting at least one team to Los Angeles - on the table, one can only wonder how (and if) the two are intertwined.

Without any doubt, ticket sales and attendance this fall will be crucial to the Saints' future in New Orleans. But three other considerations will have to be (1) availability of corporate sponsorships, (2) success of rebuilding New Orleans, and (3) whether another catastrophic hurricane hits southeast Louisiana this summer. Between lack of support, failure to rebuild or garner much business support, or destruction inflicted by another large-scale hurricane, any of those could be enough for Tommy Boy (or Rita Girl) to pack the team up and move to the west coast.

The only thing we can do at this point is wait, watch, and hope the Saints don't botch the draft. (I predict a foundation for success will be built with the Saints' first pick, starting with a large Brick...)

An article by Glenn Guilbeau voiced the sentiments of several Saints fans who were overjoyed by the team's return to Metairie. Some choice quotes from Guilbeau's article:
"I really appreciate what Mr. Tagliabue has done. He did so much for this city in keeping the team here. I really feel his retirement could hurt the city. I'm still wary of Mr. Benson. Most of the blame for what happened after the hurricane I would put on Tom Benson."

"If Tom Benson is willing to come back, I'm willing to meet him halfway."

"It's great to have the team back, especially because I didn't think they would be back."

"The fan base is coming back and coming back strong."

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