Contact Sports: Hype or Meat?

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 11, 2002


About three years ago the Saints traded quite a few top draft pick opportunities for one player. Ricky Williams, the man with dreadlocks and the heal for an ailing team. He may have been a great player in college, that I won’t doubt, but I think the dollar signs may have clouded his brain and blocked his view of what he was supposed to run with, the football. Mike Ditka must have seen such a problem on the horizon and created an intelligent contract to further entice the running back to simply run. It was easy enough, the man runs more he gets paid more. How many guys out there would kiss their wife, think about their kids and say “Baby, I’m going to go out there, cover some yards and not only bring home some bacon, but the whole pig.”

In some situations, having one star player provide a focal point to spruce up a team is just what the gridiron doctor ordered, however, for the Saints, that strategy seems to backfire. But think about it, if one of your co-workers received the majority of the attention from the company and the bank, some tension may arise and even ostracize the inflated rookie.

Think it wouldn’t happen, with such Southern hospitality around here? It has. Reports from inside the Saints camp describes a Saints team going through its drills, and a rookie following suit like third wheel. For some reason, whether because of money or personality, Williams hasn’t been widely accepted by the black and gold. I don’t know the guy personally, so I would have to point to the former. So with the wonderful Williams on the outs, what’s the solution? Stop looking to a one man gang to hoist the team to the Superbowl, or a winning season. Miami offered the Saints 1st and 4th-round draft picks for the 2002 draft and maybe a 3rd-round pick in 2003.

The Saints should seek men who want to play the game. Men who aren’t afraid to play in pain. I know it’s against the Saints’ religion to hire slightly older players, but experience counts. During those years, the Saints may not have had the best team in the NFL, but a host of players gave outstanding performances and made our defense stand alone. Then they were traded. The point of it all, hire a few men for various positions to beef up the team, not just one guy for one position. Let these guys make a name for themselves in the NFL, not just say they paid their dues in college. Look for proof from two teams that immediately entered my mind, the World Series champions Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees. Neither of these teams had one player, they had one team. For the Phillies, they were even a group of rag-tag players, who may have gotten lucky, but at the end of the season, they held both the city and the trophy above their heads.

ROBERT L. LEE is the sports editor. You may contact him at 985-652-9545.