With all due respect to Tommy, I think this idiotic screed painting Sean Payton as a modern Benedict Arnold is as bad as anything that's been produced this week. Bob Kravitz from the Indianapolis Star, come on down!
Before a big game, wanting to win isn't enough. You have to really want to beat the other team, and drum up hatred for their players, their city, and everything they stand for. (New York Magazine has the excellently named feature "The Evil People Who Are Attempting to Take What Is Rightfully Ours.")
But it can be tough to find something to hate about the Saints. They stay out of legal trouble (the closest would be Donté Stallworth). They avoid the drugs (sure Charles Grant and Will Smith took StarCaps, but who hasn't?). And yes, the whole Katrina thing.
But Bob Kravitz has found a unique angle. One sure to make any undecided fan turn rabidly against the Saints, for their transgressions against football — nay, against America itself.
You see, Sean Payton was a replacement player in 1987.
Crapping your pants in indignation yet?
Actually, a backup scab — he played quarterback behind starting scab Mike Hohensee — who undermined the NFL Players Association and crossed the picket line so he could chase some kind of dubious dream of wearing an NFL uniform.
Some decisions can be forgiven as youthful indiscretions, lapses in judgment. This is not one of them. Payton is getting a lot of cheers this week for his coaching acumen — all of them are deserved — but his entrée into this league came at the expense of the same union members who now put their bodies on the line for him and his staff.
Now, because any good columnist will do some actually reporting to back up their assertions, Kravitz spoke to four players: two former Bears whose picket line Payton crossed, and two current Saints involved with the players' union. Think they had Kravitz's back?
Really? I didn't even know that. Makes no difference to me."
Kids like Payton, they were chasing a dream. I can't be too hard on them. And the important thing is, he used that opportunity and was fearless about it. Look what he's become. I look at the union now, and it only enhances (Payton's) stature in my eyes.''
I don't think our generation looks at those (replacement players) like it was their fault or anything like that."
How are you going to ask somebody to give up an opportunity to play in the league that otherwise they might not have?"
Holy shit. To sum up, here's how the writing of Bob Kravitz's column went.
1) Decide Sean Payton's a traitor
2) Talk to the people he supposedly betrayed
3) Find out that none of them consider him a traitor
4) Write the column anyway
Kravitz's aim was to get your bile rising, and to be honest, it worked. But something's wrong when that ill feeling is caused by self-righteous lines like "my version of the American Dream doesn't involve crossing a picket line. But that's just me." and "there are certain life choices that speak to a man's essential character, whether he's 23 or 53."
Congratulations, Bob Kravitz. You somehow wrote a column worse than "I don't hate pizza anymore."
Kravitz: Payton's start a shocker [Indy Star]