PlayBook: The Wake

By Fraser Lockerbie

The Saints have stumbled twice but they've only been caught once and that's all that counts

“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves the only final sin is stupidity.”

Cazart! And that’s that. The Saints bounty scandal in 25 words or less. A devious little indulgence practiced by most and pinned on a few. A story of things left undone, unsaid and undisclosed by everyone involved. While one lied, the others swore to it and by the time Gregg Williams’ profanity laden tirade was released, the whole world was watching and the deal was all but done. “Kill the head and the body will die;” the Saints were buried for at least this year but probably more.

A year is a long time to live in the NFL without a front office or a head coach but it will be particularly difficult to coordinate whatever remains of the 27 or so mutants who got paid to mangle other super mutants on the field of play. And we’re not talking about pip-squeak pee wee play here; this is the pros. We’re talking about 300 pound defensive ends with a mandate to “kill the head.” That’s a heavy trip to lay on anyone let alone a rabid monster with an already healthy predisposition to maim. That’s the sort of bad craziness that will stir people into a frenzy when they’re forced to play 60 straight minutes of adrenaline-pumping professional football.

Kill the head and the body will die. The verbiage is Frazier’s but Williams got it backwards; Smokin’ Joe meant to wear Ali so thin with body shots that by the sixth or seventh round he wouldn’t be floating like anything but a buoy set out on to sea on a calm, windless night. He treated Ali in final rounds of the Fight of the Century like a weighted inflatable clown that kept coming up for more and when the dust settled Frazier was still the champ but both men were a little worse for wear.

Which is an apt analogy in the wake of Bountygate. No one walked away from this one looking like a stone cold king. The Saints look like a chain gang of hired thugs out to cripple and kill at the beck and call of a dangerous mind and the NFL has to admit that this might not be an isolated incident, that other bounty programs might be afoot, that criminals may have made a career lining the pockets of the league’s most vicious dogs for years.

But wait, by god, there is more. On top of all this the Saints have been accused of a far reaching criminal conspiracy to rewire the headsets of opposing coaches so that the devilish Mickey Loomis could listen in on their plays. Never mind that Loomis before this was a bean counter who couldn’t correctly identify a stop sign let alone one to shift to a 4-3. Or that a series of complicated hand signals would have to be learned and practiced at high speed by all to relay the message. Or that league certified official and maybe more than one would have to be bought and badgered and sworn to secrecy. Or that anyone with half a brain in the NFL speaks in code and Loomis would have to know every one to make any use of the knowledge.  

Never mind all that. The Saints are goons! Liars, thieves and worse! Liars and goons no doubt, but thieves or worse is a stretch we’re willing to believe only because the first two are true and the fat is already in the fire so why not turn up the heat?

Being a liar doesn’t always make you a cheat. The Saints might be liars but they haven’t been caught cheating and you’re only guilty when you get caught. 


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