I’m writing today’s dispatch kneeling down, switching from my left knee to my right knee every few minutes because of my advancing arthritic condition.
In protest of a four-game NFL preseason schedule.
It’s my given right as a U.S. citizen of saying enough is enough, especially after seeing the New Orleans Saints tie a Black-and-Gold ribbon around a 0-4 preseason with a 23-14 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens at a half-filled Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Thursday night.
Two is plenty.
Other snap observations from the Big Easy and around the NFL:
▪ Based on his performance this preseason, Saints backup quarterback Garrett Grayson seems to have taken a step backward. Cowboys rookie and former Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott looks light years better than Grayson, now in his second NFL season. Grayson went in the third round of the 2015 draft. Prescott went in the fourth round this spring. Prescott will open the season as the Pokes’ starter. Grayson appears to be headed for a second season of being inactive on game days.
▪ Atlanta’s Matt Ryan ranks as the fourth best quarterback ... in the NFC South. His once ample skills appear to be declining under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who seems hell-bent to stick a square peg in a round hole with his play action-rollout scheme. Here’s how I rank the quarterbacks in the division: 1. Cam Newton (Carolina). 2. Drew Brees (New Orleans). 3. Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay). 4. Ryan.
▪ The idea that the Saints now have lost nine consecutive exhibition games dating to the 2014 preseason isn’t as disconcerting as the fact that they are 7-9 in “real’’ games played at the Superdome the past two seasons. Take away three season-opening home wins in ’14 and they are 4-9 in their last 13 games! What happened to home-field advantage?
▪ For the umpteenth time, I would not extend Brees’ contract, not until this season plays out.
▪ In fact, finding a young quarterback next offseason should be a top priority for Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton, especially if they have seen enough of G-squared.
▪ Whether one agrees with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem, the NFL’s passive/submissive reaction is incredulous. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the league’s judge, jury and executioner, has been conspicuously silent on the matter save for a prepared statement issued by the league office.
This is the same NFL that issues player fines for orchestrated celebrations, taunting, uniform violations in support of curing breast cancer, etc. Sayeth the league: “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.”
What a copout! At least you know where Kaepernick stands, or kneels, on the issue. If sponsors start pulling their advertising dollars, the NFL might change their position.
▪ If we have seen the last of veteran NFL tight end Benjamin Watson, he long will be remembered as a great person than a good football player, though his career has spanned more than a decade. The former Saint (2013 to 2015) is a consummate professional and true humanitarian. Watson, 36, suffered a season-ending and perhaps career-ending torn Achilles tendon while playing for the Baltimore Ravens this preseason.
And finally, I had to finish my column sitting down. These ol’ knees ain’t what they used to be.