Sunday, June 13, 2010

Saints Nation: Are Offseason Issues Signs of a Bigger Problem for Saints?

Times-Picayune writer Jeff Duncan has suggested in his most recent article that, paraphrasing, the Saints are in the midst of a SuperBowl hangover that will cost them a disappointing upcoming season. He wrote THIS ARTICLE, entitled "New Orleans Saints' offseason distractions continuing to mount". He's correct that there's been some items of note happening lately, but are they truly worthy of major concern?

Here are the items that Duncan lists as part of the "mounting distractions":

1. Jeremy Shockey (pictured) having a bad attitude at a fan signing.
2. Shockey having "seizure like symptoms" in the weight room.
3. Pierre Thomas' contract situation.
4. Vicodin-gate.
5. Reggie Bush's involvement in the USC scandal.
6. The team wide visit to Plaquemines Parish to witness the oil spill.

No doubt, the items listed above a each concerning to various degrees, and they can add up to one big problem. But are they different from any other offseason? Let's recap the offseason before the SuperBowl run:

1 This isn't the first time Shockey has been accused of being disassociated at his signings. The guy is a little bit shy socially. I realize he has a number of fans, and a responsibility to respect them, but this is nothing new. We shouldn't expect all Saints players to act like Drew Brees. Shockey caused news when ran his mouth publicly last offseason, inappropriately. We should be used to this.
2. Shockey passed out in Las Vegas from "dehydration" last offseason, which was the same diagnosis for the weight room incident. 
3. Contract situation? Are you kidding me? Every single team in every single offseason deals with contract issues. Malcolm Jenkins had the longest holdout in the past decade for the Saints last year.
4. So Vicodin-gate, especially if true, sounds very serious. Let's not forget, though, the Kevin Houser tax fiasco was a pretty big scale distraction that had/has legal implications too.
5. So USC got caught cheating and Reggie Bush was involved in the violations. While this issue is a little more unique, this is something that happened 5+ years ago. It's coming to a head now, but it's out of Bush's control and I think he's done a good job to ignore the situation.
6. The oil spill. Seriously? First of all, the Saints help the community every single offseason, and they made the NFC Championship a year after Hurricane Katrina. That was the most devastating natural disaster in American history, and almost wiped the city of New Orleans completely off the map. I think the oil spill pales in comparison to how it affects the players.

Please don't misunderstand me as saying these things should be ignored, or that they are not a big deal. They're all serious in their own right. My only point is these "offseason issues" are really not that different from the "offseason issues" that confronted the Saints last year. We all know how that season turned out. Every team faces offseason distractions. The bottom line is it won't affect how the team performs on the field unless the team lets it. I think the Saints have enough focused professionals to avoid that. They may or may not win the SuperBowl again this year, but it won't be because Reggie Bush got his Heisman taken away, or because Jeremy Shockey is a meanie.