So the drama-filled offseason for the New Orleans Saints should be over. At least the drama part, at any rate. BountyGate has been uncovered, dissected, appealed, rejected, etc. Drew Brees and the Saints have agreed to a 5 year, $100 million contract. All the distractions are more or less taken care of and now the Saints can get back to what they do best - playing football. Or practicing, rather, but you get the point.
So now that everything is in our rear view mirror, I wondered what the damage would be. What the long term effects of BountyGate would be. And I came to one surprising conclusion; a conclusion that many of you will no doubt disagree with.
I've concluded that with the exception of a very small group of people (Gregg Williams, Sean Payton and Jon Vilma come to mind), BountyGate isn't as big a deal as the media made it seem. It came, we talked about it, it left. It's over.
But you know what isn't over? The damage Drew Brees has done to his reputation. Brees has long been considered one of the true good guys of sports; a guy who had to overcome doubters because of his lack of size and arm strength; a guy who wasn't given a fair shot in San Diego; a guy who went to the deepest depths of NFL Purgatory (New Orleans, pre-Brees) and turned that town into the home of a Super Bowl trophy; a guy who was sort of viewed as the face of New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; a family man; an athlete who not only succeeded on the field but was a great role model for fans across the world.
And he is all those things. He's also a guy who ignored all of the NFL's evidence about bounty hunting and instead labeled BountyGate a "smear campaign". He's the guy who claims the NFL is colluding against the NO coaches and "intimidated them into accepting" suspensions. He's the same guy who claims ledgers taken from NO coaches' computers showing bounties are "hypothetical, hearsay, and supposed testimony". Same for the audio of former Defensive Coordinator Williams instructing his players to injure 49ers' players; it's all "hypothetical hearsay". Same guy who tweeted this:
"If NFL fans were told there were "weapons of mass destruction" enough times, they'd believe it. But what happens when you don't find any????"
You know... because us NFL fans are stupid as can be, apparently. And of course suspending a couple of football coaches/players is the exact same as invading foreign countries and involving multiple nations in war. Jon Vilma has to sit out some games? Same as soldiers putting their lives on the line. Payton can't coach this year? Same as Iraqi citizens losing their lives. You know, obvious stuff.
And it gets worse. There's the just recently ended contractual situation, where Brees held his organization hostage to ensure he made more than the pitiful 18 mil/per year contract the stingy Saints were bold enough to offer. Yep, it went on for months and months; Brees even spoke to the public about what he wanted and how the team wasn't giving it to him. In other words, he whined loudly enough until the team had no choice but to cave and make the Brees' family bank account that much larger.
Never mind the $60 million he's already made from the Saints. Never mind the fact that the 2012 Bloomberg BusinessWeek Horrow Sports Ventures Power 100 ranked Brees number one overall, due to his on-the-field accomplishments, $16 million salary, and his plethora of high-grossing endorsement deals.
The Saints only offered him $18 million a year, and that's clearly an outrage. Brees is worth way more than that, at least in his own selfish mind, and obviously in the mind of his powerful and money hungry agent (Tom Condon) as well. So he cried about it and he cried about it, and the Saints caved. Brees is now scheduled to make no less than $20 million per year, and his reported $60 million in guaranteed money is the largest amount in the history of the NFL.
So I hope you enjoy your overabundance of money, Mr. Brees. Enjoy it while it lasts, because all the respect and good will I had for you is already gone. Here's hoping the Saints fall flat on their faces this year. Here's hoping a team featuring some of the real good guys finishes first this time.