Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wasted Potential

Several sources have confirmed today that former Saint Donte' Stallworth will be charged with vehicular manslaughter as well as driving under the influence after blood tests revealed he had a BAC of .12 (or .04 OVER the legal limit). Firstly, my thoughts of course go out to the victim and his family for suffering through such an absolute atrocity. By all accounts Stallworth has always seemed like a genuinely good person, and this is a stiff price to pay for his serious mistake. Maybe we can all learn from it.

From a Saints perspective, we have to give major kudos to Sean Payton here. When he came to New Orleans he inherited two receivers with very similar abilities from the Haslett regime. Laser fast speed and tremendous upside while struggling to reach their full potential. Payton decided to keep Devery Henderson and part ways with Donte' Stallworth. The Saints have been better off for it, and Henderson finally seems to be coming around after a much improved 2008 season that rewarded him with a brand new 4 year contract in the offseason. Stallworth, on the other hand, has now played for 3 teams since he was shipped to Philadelphia... and was at risk of being released by the Browns even prior to his latest incident.

If you look at the things Stallworth was guilty of in New Orleans: sleeping through meetings, lacking maturity, arriving late to practice, and not willing to play through minor pain (some things Terrell Owens is guilty of by the way), it's easy to see why Payton decided to let him go. Henderson has always been praised for having a great work ethic and a great attitude - which has sustained his career as a Saint for much longer despite the catching struggles throughout his career.

In the end, this can all be traced back to Payton's masterplan, which calls for players of integrity and character to play a major role on his squad. The incident with Stallworth is proof that when you keep investing in a player who does not take responsibility for his actions, you may get burned. As we've seen with some mediocre results in the past 2 seasons, there is also a downside to this master plan (which will be examined on a different day), but in an off-season where Devery Henderson was re-signed to a 4 year deal and Donte' Stallworth was arrested for a crime that could put him behind bars for a significant part of his life -- it's pretty clear that the masterplan has won in this instance.