After former Saints defensive end Will Smith was shot and killed on Saturday night, Saints coach Sean Payton called Smith’s death “senseless” in a post on Twitter.
Payton expanded on those thoughts during an interview with Jarrett Bell of USA Today and drew a line from Smith’s murder to the overall climate of violence in New Orleans. Payton talked about his hatred of guns and his feeling that there are too many of them able to be obtained too easily, adding “so be it” if his opinion is unpopular in Louisiana or elsewhere.
Payton said that the toll violence has taken on New Orleans recently has largely been overlooked because the impact has been heaviest in poorer neighborhoods and that Smith’s death highlights the issue for a wider audience.
“We don’t hear this noise when something happens in New Orleans East, or in the Lower 9,” Payton said. “Now you creep into the Garden District … I just know this: Our city is broken. … It’s like our big little secret. They don’t want to kill tourism. But right now, it’s like the Wild, Wild West here.”
Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu is a New Orleans native and shared some similar thoughts about the state of the city right now.
“It’s so dangerous, I tell you, I fly in and I fly out of town,” Mathieu said on FOX Sports Radio. “That’s how scared I am. And this is where I came from. I love my city to death. But it’s senseless.”
Smith was a father, husband and friend whose loss is being mourned by those who knew and loved him. Based on Payton and Mathieu’s comments, there will be too many others in New Orleans lost the same way if the city and its residents don’t find a way to coexist in the near future.