Time for a look at the top Wednesday morning headlines from around the NFC South.
I don’t know if it will change anything, but New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith and former Saints Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove will have appeals of their suspensions for their roles in the bounty program heard by an arbitrator Wednesday. Even if nothing comes of this, this isn’t the end of the line. The NFL Players Association has filed a separate grievance with the league’s system arbitrator. They also have filed an appeal with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who issued the punishments in the first place.
Although the Saints have a veteran coaching staff and roster, Jeff Duncan writes they already miss suspended coach Sean Payton. I think the Saints potentially can weather this one, but it’s going to be a process and some assistant coaches and some of the leadership among the players will have to step forward to help compensate for some of the intangibles that left the building with Payton.
Here’s a column that takes issue with the prospect of taxpayer money being used to potentially finance a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons. I totally understand the argument that the people of Georgia have other needs and that Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank already makes plenty of money. But, in today’s NFL, you need state-of-the-art stadiums to stay competitive. It may not be ideal, but the norm is for taxpayers to pick up at least some of the tab for a new stadium.
Speaking of sports and the economy, let’s go a little outside the box. I don’t do much reading in the world of finance, but a former co-worker passed along this column by a financial planner, who writes that recent events have caused him to lose his life-long passion for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the NFL in general. The author concludes that professional sports are a waste of time, money and energy. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but he brings up some points worth pondering.
Former Carolina Panthers running back Stephen Davis was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame. Davis earned the honor exclusively for his spectacular high school career, when he was nicknamed “Little Herschel’’ after Herschel Walker. But I’ll always remember Davis for his role in the Panthers’ 2003 season. That year, Davis arrived in Carolina and instantly became the focus of the offense. Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad each made some big plays along the way, but Davis was the glue to the Carolina offense as the Panthers went to their only Super Bowl.
Brian Allee-Walsh has a theory that agent Tom Condon isn’t simply looking for a new deal for New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees. He speculates that Condon is trying to raise the bar for all quarterback contracts. There’s some logic in there because Condon’s agency represents nearly half of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks.