BAYHAM: On Watching The Saints Despite It All

Yes, I watched the Saints game on Sunday.

Above my desk sits my favorite original historic photograph. It features a smilingĀ  NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle looking over a piece of legislation held by then-US Senator Russell Long.

It was taken in 1966 inside Long’s Capitol Hill office and Louisiana’s signature pelican flag is visible behind them.

That photo captures the birth of the New Orleans Saints franchise for the bill the league commissioner was giddily staring at allowed the merger of the NFL and AFL, which would end the financial hemorrhaging between the rival football organizations and creating the country’s dominant sports entity.

The scion of the Kingfish was one of the most powerful senators in Washington and his handling of the legislation in the upper chamber helped ensure its passage to the House.

What there isn’t a photograph of is of Rozelle and another Louisiana titan in Washington: US Representative Hale Boggs.

When Boggs told Rozelle his bill wouldn’t have any problems in his chamber, the NFL commissioner gushed he didn’t know how to thank the New Orleans congressman, to which he curtly exclaimed Rozelle would award the crescent city an expansion team.

Naively, Rozelle “oh goshed” out a comment about how Boggs’ district would receive great consideration by the expansion committee.

Boggs chilly reply that the committee the merger bill was going through might not be as inclined to pass the legislation that Rozelle and the football owners so badly needed.

The scales fell quickly from Rozelle’s eyes having immediately and he became so enamoured with New Orleans going pro that the commissioner awarded the city a team on the spot (they really should install a brass fleur de list there for posterity).

With the league merger approved Boggs, Rozelle, Long, Governor John McKeithen, and New Orleans Mayor Vic Schiro gathered at the Pontchartrain Hotel on All Saints Day 1966 to make the announcement official.

While unseemly by modern standards that there was a quid pro quo was widely circulated in the newspapers and as New Orleans was at its peak in the late 1960s as the South’s leading city and Gateway to the Americas, this was likely their last and only hope to join the ranks of the NFL.

A lot of work went into landing the team and a lot of work went into keeping it here (credit Governor Edwin Edwards) after enduring a woeful existence under the mismanagement of team owner John Mecom, Jr.

Katrina would strain the connection between the team and city with then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue coming to the rescue, dragging both franchise and ownership by the ear from their San Antonio exile.

Seriously as much as New Orleans hates Roger Goodell, you’d think we’d bigly honor Tagliabue, like rename a street or build a statue of him or something.

I haven’t always liked the owners, coaches, or players but I’ve always loved and cheered for the Saints, and football in general.

Yes, the creeping leftist politicize everything mentality has infected America’s sport in every facet, especially in terms of media coverage with sports journalists coming off more like New York Times editorial board writers.

I hate what they’re doing to my team and sport and America in general.

And I’m equally disgusted by the shabby treatment Brees received from the entire organization during his hour of need with only defensive end Marcus Davenport doing anything close to defending the franchise player during his prolonged struggle session.

And the team decision to ignore a young innocent black female (Briana Allen, age 5) who died from the very violence that plagues this city and its people in place of Jacob Blake wasn’t just absurd but disgusting.

These superfluous vurtue signal gestures aren’t winning over anyone and only exhibit how succeptible and pliable this team is to social pressure influencers.

If this team were truly concerned about blacks dying in the streets, they can skip on importing stories from Kentucky and walk eight blocks west of the Superdome.

Each player could represent a own victim on his helmet with plenty of fatalities to go on the gear of assistant coaches and field staff.

And I’m not going to let the Left and their accomplices in Manhattan and Airline Drive deprive me of what I love and enjoy in life through political self-denial.

I’ve already suffered enough in 2020 from COVID and terrible political reporting by the rigged media.

Long and Boggs put the NFL league in a corner 54 years ago and they yielded because it was in their financial interests to do so.

Far lesser individuals than the distinguished gentlemen from Louisiana are also forcing the league to its knees, though this time literally, not out of finances but cowardice.

America isn’t losing their love of football but their patience for a league that has made itself the plaything of blatant cultural Marxists, many of whom don’t even like their product.

That’s a deal I doubt even Pete Rozelle would’ve made.



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