It cannot be a mere coincidence that one day after the Louisiana State Police cleared Mickey Loomis and the New Orleans Saints of ESPN's wiretapping claim, owner Tom Benson met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell over his mistreatment of the team.
Roger Goodell levied historic penalties against the franchise as well as current and former Saints employees for the alleged bounty scandal. Despite unsubstantiated claims of "over 10,000" pages of evidence, two pieces of evidence have already been refuted and Judge Berrigan has strongly criticized Roger Goodell in Jonathan Vilma's court case.
Early in this process, I offered up the conspiracy theory that Roger Goodell did not want Tom Benson's Saints playing in the Super Bowl in New Orleans. However, most Saints fans latched on to another hypothesis that Goodell wanted to look like a knight on a white horse in the upcoming concussion litigation.
But if Roger Goodell truly wanted to make the NFL safer, wouldn't he have also investigated the other teams whose players have admitted to having "pay for performance" programs? Tom Benson realizes this is a clear case of the Saints being singled out. I know New Orleans was warned, but that doesn't exonerate every other guilty team.
As much as the gridlock of American politics aggravates me, Roger Goodell is a clear example of why a dictatorship would be far worse. Thus far, the NFL's only defense in Vilma's court case has been that the CBA grants Goodell autonomy in these matters. But does the CBA give him the right to levy any penalty he wants to?
Without a system of checks and balances, Tom Benson sounds like a lone voice crying out in the desert. Again, just because Goodell's powers come from NFL owners like Benson should not grant the NFL commissioner the right to do with the Saints as he pleases.
On the bright side, Roger Goodell's favorability rating is probably lower than the percentage of Falcons fans in New Orleans. Tom Benson met with Goodell at a time when one must wonder how much more criticism he can handle. Benson's meeting may convince Goodell to drop the Saints player suspensions before Judge Berrigan embarrasses the NFL in court.
I honestly don't think Roger Goodell knew what he was getting himself into. Like everyone in New Orleans, Tom Benson is a fighter. New Orleans withstood much worse than this in 2005 and came back even stronger. Benson and the Saints may be on the verge of a bigger victory than Super Bowl 44.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of the New Orleans Saints. Patrick's favorite Saints season was 2009 when New Orleans won Super Bowl 44. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
More from this contributorGame summary of Super Bowl 48
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- New Orleans Saints
- Roger Goodell
- New Orleans
- Tom Benson