Saints quarterback Drew Brees addressed the team’s bounty scandal with reporters on Friday. (The folks at WDSU grossly oversell the event as Brees “breaking his silence” on the subject; the truth, however, is that he has written an open letter on the subject and addressed it during several radio interviews in conjunction with one of his paid endorsements.)
“The entire team loves our coach,” Brees told reporters at an event in New Orleans on Friday. “We’d do anything for him and certainly are with him during this time. Just understanding how difficult it is and we’re all trying to get through it. We’re hoping for the best.”
But what really is “the best” in a situation like this? Reduced punishment for Sean Payton, the head coach whose team, according to the NFL, brazenly continued to use bounties for two years after the NFL investigated the situation? Or would it be an eventual decision by the league that the bounties never happened?
Given Brees’ position on the NFLPA Executive Committee, he’s necessarily conflicted. He owes it to players from every team to ensure that players aren’t involved in a cash-for-cripplings scheme, even if those players play on his own team — and even if those activities were permitted and/or organized by his own team’s coaches.
“It’s really tough, because we’re all a family,” Brees said. “To have some of the things said about us as a team and our coach and our accomplishment, those things hurt.”
We haven’t chronicled everything that has been said about their team and their coach and their accomplishment, but the facts as determined by the NFL make it fair game for folks to criticize the team for using bounties and the head coach for not stopping it and/or covering it up and the accomplishment as being tainted by the deliberate targeting of Brett Favre for injury in the 2009 NFC title game.
None of this has caused Brees to sour on the Saints. Though currently unsigned and subject to the exclusive version of the franchise tag, Brees reiterated that he fully intends to stay with the Saints.
The real question is whether the two sides can work out a new deal by the time the Saints start offseason workouts, presumably with someone other than Payton running the show.