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Fantsy Press Conference: Gary Payton, Saints

I've decided to start a new feature, "Press Conferences I'd Like To See". I'm not ashamed to admit that the inspiration for this new addition to my blog was my viewing of the entire Saints/Bears mugging... I mean game. I have no idea why I put myself through things like this - maybe it's because I read too much of the ESPN Sports Guy - but maybe it's a sort of cathartic experience, where I simply spill my frustrations from last night and just pour them into the press conference I'd love to see, just once, in real life.

"This will be brief. First of all, congratulations to Lovie Smith, the Bears for playing a good game. And I'd also like to thank the officials for basically making the outcome of this game a foregone conclusion before Rex Grossman threw his first incompletion of many to start this day. Next time, why don't we just not suit up any players, and give it to the Bears straight out? I know a Super Bowl involving the big-TV market of the Bears stands to generate a lot more revenue for the NFL than the feel-good story (and small TV market) of the Saints, but it simply would have been easier on everyone in and around New Orleans to just tell us we were going to be screwed upfront.

Let's start by taking a look and the stat line, shall we? (Grabs postgame stats from table) Okay, Saints: 7 penalties for 47 yards, Bears, 1 penalty for 5 yards. Remember, this is the NFC championship game, where I've led a suspect defense all year while the Bears have one of the toughest defenses in the NFL. You're telling me that the Bears committed only one penalty? You believe that? I'd like to sell you some riverfront property in the Ninth Ward, then. I can personally count more than four times that meathead Brian Ulracher alone mugged my receivers on the way to catching passes. No, seriously, did somebody check him for knives before or after the game?

But wait, let's not just stop there. Let's take a couple of serious momentum-killers on special teams as well. What about that forty yard kick return by Michael Lewis called back by some incidental contact upfield? This was following a couple of Bear returns where the special teams units simply manhandled our guys downfield. The second timeout that Grossman called on the 4th-and-1 that was conveniently ignored by the officials. I'm not the sort of guy to call for an investigation into improper officiating, but this is ridiculous.

There was the safety. Now, Drew Brees didn't really throw it to anybody, I grant you. But when Rex Grossman did the same thing later in the game, all you gave him was an "illegal man downfield" penalty that was declined. Surely in a NFC Championship game you could give us the same benefit?

Then, of course, there were the fumbles. Of course, the call on the "fumble" on the kickoff return at the end of the first quarter when both of Michael Lewis' legs were clearly down was just an abject abomination, but seeing as Aikman and the rest of the nation saw that so clearly on replay (as did I), I'll leave that one to the court of public opinion. I'm seriously considering a movement to set up an "American Idol" deal for replay challenges where fans can dial in to overrule the referees on the field. If these jokers can't get something right that's so abjectly obvious, the fans out there certainly could do no worse.

I'm not saying we would have won the game. My team folded like a cheap tent at the end, and that's my fault. But the NFL has to do something about games like this where it seems so clear that there is impropriety and bias towards one team. Come on now, would you really be surprised to learn that the Sopranos paid each referee a boatload of money to ensure that a QB whose 42.3 completion percentage would make it to the Super Bowl? I certainly don't think so - but there are an awful lot of people out there who do. And looking at the result of this game, who can really blame them?

That is all. My team was not ready for "17-vs. 11" football today, and that's my fault. I'm not saying we would have won, but it's games like this that makes be want to coach Eastern Illinois instead of an NFL team. All I ask is you make the right calls on the field. And when my former boss Bill Parcells retires tomorrow, you might want to ask him about this too.

By the way Simmons, the NFL wants the Saints in the Super Bowl and will do anything to make it happen? Are you kidding me? How do you feel now?"


Anonymous said…
I agree that the officials left much to ponder, but it will always boil down to mano-a-mano. the Bears out mano'd the Saints.

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