- Ed Werder, ESPN NFL Insider
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Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith will not address with his players accusations that Sean Weatherspoon and Jonathan Babineaux deliberately interfered with the New Orleans Saints' pregame warm-up routine Sunday, a source told ESPN.
The incident was first reported by Yahoo! Sports. Shanle told ESPN it was the first time he had seen anything like that in his 10 seasons and described the behavior as "disrespectful and classless."
Vilma told ESPN that "the Falcons acted like the baddest, toughest team in the league" and that he approached a Falcons assistant coach standing nearby about removing the player, but the coach simply "stood there smiling."
Vilma said the Saints accorded the Falcons respect even though they have dominated their division rivals. A member of the Falcons organization told ESPN that the Saints are hypocrites to complain about another team's behavior even as they endure historic punishment for the alleged bounty scandal.
Shanle told Yahoo! Sports that the Falcons' taunting of former Atlanta and current New Orleans linebacker Curtis Lofton before the game helped to fire up the Saints.
"They were talking (expletive) to our guy Curtis Lofton," he told the website. "I couldn't even understand them. They were just walking all over our drills trying to mess with him. Vilma went and told their coach it was classless, and they didn't even say anything. It set the tone for the day. It was classless, and they got what they deserved."
Explaining his decision, Lofton told ESPN that two things infuriated the Falcons -- that he was leaving to play for a team he believed capable of winning a Super Bowl as if Atlanta couldn't and that he wanted to be with a team where he was wanted, not tolerated. Saints players told ESPN that Lofton ignored Babineaux and Weatherspoon as they shouted at him Sunday.
Before Sunday's game, the Falcons team Lofton left was the only undefeated team in the league and the Saints defense for which he was starting was ranked worst in the NFL and challenging for potentially ranking as the poorest in league history.
Outspoken Falcons receiver Roddy White refused to give the Saints credit for their 31-27 victory, saying after the game that Atlanta "gave" the win to New Orleans.
"It's not like they came out here and won a game," said White, who finished Sunday's game with seven catches for 114 yards. "I think we kind of gave it to them,
Shanle told Yahoo! Sports that Sunday's result was further proof that the Saints "own" the Falcons.
"They're like our little brothers. Deep down they know they can't mess with us even when we are having a down year," he told the website.
The teams play again in less than two weeks.
8hEric D. Williams