26 April 2012

A Virtuous Contempt

"There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn."
- Albert Camus


And you thought this offseason couldn't get any more bizarre, right? Well how about a criminal allegation of wiretapping! Is that something you might be interested in?   


With accusations of eavesdropping on opponents levied against Saints' crime boss General Manager Mickey Loomis by the investigative journalists (term loosely applied) at ESPN's Outside the Lines, this Saints' offseason trucked into another gear on Monday. A (not so) long, strange trip indeed. 


Before we go any further, let's just remember that these allegations are from ten years ago. And they spring from a single, anonymous source who just conveniently remembered to alert ESPN and the US Attorney's Office this past week. WHAT A COINCIDENCE! WHAT A SUDDEN CRISIS OF CONSCIENCE AFTER TEN YEARS! 


Predictably, after ESPN released the information Monday afternoon, the network (ESPN) went into all-out affirmation mode. Blasted across its mind-numbingly redundant multiplicity of platforms, ESPN told the world all about the incarnate evil of Mickey Loomis. Never mind a presumption of innocence. Never mind a refusal to provide any evidence to the Saints when requested (sound familiar?). Never mind the prospect that maybe, just maybe, one "source" was a bit unreliable. 


Nah, innocence before proven guilt is so passé.  


Instead, full steam ahead with torpedoing Mickey Loomis' reputation and further irrevocably disgracing the Saints. Whatever "moves the needle," right scumbags? Who cares if it actually happened? Just report it as such. After all, a retroactive, single-sentenced, backpage retraction will keep the lawyers away. So hey, roll with it. 


What pristine, redeeming moral compasses the hypocrites at ESPN possess. 


ESPN, much like the NFL, largely operates as an unassailable monolith and frequently adheres to a philosophy of manufactured-headlines-presented-and-reiterated-as-irrefutable-truth. It's shoot first, ask questions later. Just ask Cam Newton and Auburn about that.


Some worthy current perspective: now six months into ESPN's sex abuse allegations against Bernie Fine at Syracuse, one the accusers--and central source--in ESPN's allegations recently admitted "the evidence that supports me is just pure luck, not real evidence. I made the ENTIRE thing up." Mind you, this a report from a mere 12 days ago that has further exposed ESPN's investigation and reporting as borderline fraudulent. That case is ongoing and ESPN looks less and less credible by the second.  


Yet now, we're supposed to believe that ESPN isn't capable of producing a flimsily-sourced, career-threatening accusation against Mickey Loomis in an effort to manufacture a timely headline? 


Does anyone but the people most closely affected by these weakly-sourced, criminal allegations even care about this approach? Do they even recognize what's going on? 


Thankfully, current and former Saints alike responded with swift ferocity to the ESPN report. Not in a measured or nuanced tone this time, but instead in a caustically visceral one. 


Greg Bensel: "1000% false"


Mickey Loomis: "Absolutely false"


Cortez Kennedy: "Completely false"


Rick Reiprish: "Completely untrue"


Former employee Rick Mueller: "There is no way this happened."


Jim Haslett: "This concept was never discussed or utilized." 
  
Robert Carrol, Saints' audio engineer: "I’ve spent too many hours in that Superdome not to think I would have seen something."


Joe Vitt: "juvenile, irresponsible, untrue, ludicrous, impossible."


And finally, Sean Payton via CBS' Larry Holder:



















So who are we to believe? A litany of knowledgeable insiders? Or an anonymous source, ten years after the fact, from a desperate, imperious media conglomerate with a vault of ulterior motive and a history of shoddy reporting?


WE AIN'T DOWN
Regardless, it's high time that the Saints started to fight back. We're working on two months of scandal and unrelenting condemnation. And the brash, two-faced hypocrisy of Roger Goodell is still on display in all of its preening, reptilian glory. 


Player sanctions are still pending. And why? To further complicate the Saints' ability to draft optimally? Or because the NFLPA refuses to cooperate without, you know, seeing all of that irrefutable evidence Goodell keeps talking about in the press?


Didn't Goodell's lawyer, Jeff Pash, recently state that Saints' players were "clearly participants?" Didn't Goodell this week tell Rich Eisen (conveniently soft-balled by the league-owned network) that Saints' players "enthusiastically embraced" the bounty program? 


Well then why not just share all of that information with the NFLPA and get on with it? Are you hiding something? Lacking true evidence? Or just trying to make the Saints' draft preparations a bit more difficult? 


On April 2nd, Goodell was waiting on a recommendation of discipline from the NFLPA in order to finalize player sanctions. But now that the NFLPA has repeatedly requested evidence before cooperating, Goodell has completely changed his tune this week stating that he's "not necessarily looking for a recommendation from [the NFLPA]." 


So because the NFLPA demands due process while the league ignores it, Goodell will just march on ahead and levy discipline anyway? Why hasn't anyone in the media addressed this sudden change of heart? Is it not noteworthy? 


Without continuing to beat this whimpering, dying horse any longer, I'll just say the overarching frustration is this: a sprawling, propagandized carnival without the divulging of direct (or complete) evidence by the NFL and ESPN; the sweeping, ubiquitous chorus of damnation by a press who refuses to ask tough questions and seek answers; and the recent anonymously-sourced hatchet pieces on key figures Mickey Loomis and Rita Benson Leblanc. It's like a Cold War-era, CIA Black Op. 


But at some point, the power of contempt works both ways. 




This scorn will fuel the Saints. And people outside of New Orleans are starting to take notice. Albert Breer of the NFL Network said Tuesday the Saints are "like an angry, cornered animal" intent on fighting back. He also said more poignantly and accurately that this Saints' team is going to be "one motivated bunch." 


The Saints aren't remotely doomed and Mickey Loomis certainly hasn't "destroyed [any] chance for a successful season" as that insalubrious, talentless hack Jeffri Chadiha so ignorantly presumes. 


In the end, the seemingly infinite amount of disdain heaped upon the Saints should prove valuable. In a sport where the commodity of emotion plays a central role, this Saints' team will have emotion, motivation, and common purpose to draw upon in droves. Don't fool yourself. There is more to prove now than ever before. And what high theater will that inevitably produce. 


The 2012 season promises to be unprecedented, sublimely emotional, and maddeningly gratifying. 


And guess what? We've only just begun. 


Buckle up. History beckons. 

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