Saints fans should be thankful for no disruptions at camp!by J.W. Miller on 08/12/19
Different people look for different things the week of an NFL team’s first preseason game. Players new to the team look for opportunity. Coaches look for depth. Starters look for a short evening. And Who Dat Nation is just happy to see their heroes on the field once again after another long frustrating off-season. And all the above should be happy for one other thing. No disruptions.
Player holdouts are the most common form of camp chaos but it also can include player rants or suspensions or even front office shenanigans such as the Arizona Cardinals executive who was slapped with an embarrassing DUI over the weekend. The news media loves it, because they can only take so many position drills, scrimmages or interviews before they are begging for something else to report on. But the Saints, at least so far, have not accommodated at Camp Tranquility.
Now if you want degrees of disruption, it’s out there in abundance. Chargers running back Melvin Gordon, Redskins’ tackle Trent Williams and Texans’ pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney are all out of camp and want new contracts. And if you want Disruption with a Big D, look at the Big D where running back Ezekiel Elliott is generating daily drama as he holds out for a new contract, although he has two years remaining on his current one. Elliott says he is prepared to hold out for the season, kind of like the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell did a year ago, although those two contract years aren’t going away. If a player has a contract in place that is not fulfilled, it is tolled, which simply means it is pushed forward.
And if you are a fan of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” you know that Oakland’s disruption is not necessarily a holdout. Their newest high-priced weapon is Antonio Brown, who wasn’t paid enough by the Steelers – players call that “lack of respect” – and wrangled a suitable treasure from the Raiders. The only problem with that is that Brown has not been able to practice yet. The initial culprit was his unconventional training methods that included an off-season visit to a cryogenics institute in Paris. The same type of people who froze Ted Williams’ body for a revival thaw at a later date - the Red Sox could use you now, Ted! - apparently did not tell Brown to cover his feet adequately and he contracted frostbite on his feet and can’t run. But Brown’s tale gets better.
With his foot almost healed, Brown says he is not playing because the NFL won’t let him wear his favorite helmet. It seems Brown wears an older model that is no longer certified by the NFL Safety Police. So until Brown gets his binky back, which isn't likely after Monday's ruling from an arbitrator that he must use an approved model, he is filling the Raiders’ camp with copious amounts of disruption.
Regarding Elliott and the other holdouts, I am appalled at the naïveté of some players who sign a big contract that puts them at the top of their position but don’t understand that NFL means “not for long.” In their case, they are among the highest paid when they sign the contract but they will remain on that lofty perch only until the next player at the position signs his contract. Agents demand it, club negotiators bow to it but some players don’t understand they are receiving a longer term deal because the term is what makes those dollars worth it to the club.
So, while Elliott wishes for rain in Dallas, just be hopeful that you are in New Orleans. The most disruption you’ll likely see at Saints camp this year is when Zion Williamson and his Pelican teammates make a cameo appearance from their practice gym over by the tracks.