MADE FOR TV: Even Without Fans, Saints Won’t Lack Any Drama This Coming Season

Photo Credit: New Orleans Saints on / Original via Butch Dill

No team in the entire NFL over the course of the last few years, especially one that’s come so frustratingly close to getting to the Super Bowl during that time, has given their fans any more heart-stopping or “dramatic” moments than the New Orleans Saints have.

And with the team involved recently in several dramatic situations off the field as well, such as the on-going coronavirus health crisis, the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and controversial quotes from players such as Malcolm Jenkins and Drew Brees that have even gotten the attention of President Trump himself — it doesn’t appear that the Black and Gold will lack any drama this season either — whether their fans actually will be able to attend any of the scheduled games or not.

The Saints just within the past few months alone have been impacted directly by an entire LITANY of events, and up until this very point in time it’s been a year thus far that’s been completely filled with an unbelievable amount of drama for the Black and Gold.

Unfortunately for New Orleans, it’s an amount of drama that’s unlikely to subside anytime soon; given everything that’s still going on at the moment.

But one thing that’s certain is that the Saints will remain prominently in the national spotlight so to speak, meaning that even if the season is played without fans in the stands, their upcoming season is definitely going to be one that’s “made for TV”.

Photo Credit: New Orleans Saints on / Michael C. Hebert

As of this morning, both the League and the Saints organization are still planning on holding Training Camp, which is slated to begin on July 28th for all 32 teams; but is still subject to change at any time depending upon how the recent “spike” of the virus is successfully contained from state-to-state.

With the lone exception of two Preseason games for every team, no other currently scheduled NFL event has been cancelled yet so far, and the League and Commissioner Roger Goodell seem hell-bent on still having a full 16-game schedule. That schedule is set to begin on September 13th for New Orleans, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against their division rivals the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and new starting QB Tom Brady.

But that’s not a guarantee by any means, and it’s a fact backed up by a report by Yahoo! Sports in which an anonymous but very influential NFL agent told writer Dan Wetzel that he expects the season to last for at least 6-to-10 games, before the uncertainty of the virus and a potential surge of new cases, could wipe out the remainder of the season over concerns for player safety.

But Wetzel does caution that NFL player agent was merely speculating at this point in time, although it’s beginning to seem more and more likely that fans will be watching all 16 regular season games along with the Playoffs (and perhaps even Super Bowl LV (55) itself), in EMPTY stadiums in all 32 NFL cities.

For the Saints in particular, it’s just one more additional drama-filled issue that they’ll likely be facing should the season still go on as planned.

As if the virus and the wide variety of social issues such as race relations and the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election aren’t enough things for them to contend with, there will also be the prospect of them being at the mercy of both state and local politicians (specifically Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell); both of whom will be bound by their duties and responsibilities to enforce whatever standards they deem necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19.

It’s for that reason specifically why the Saints and the rest of the League’s 32 teams, face the very real prospect of playing an entire season without fans.

That obviously will have an effect and direct impact upon the team, which notably has relied in the past upon the interaction of the passionate and boisterous ‘Who Dat Nation’ fan-base; that on more than one occasion has been a source of inspiration in helping lead the Saints on to some memorable victories at home.

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints, YouTube

Over the course of the last few weeks alone, the NFL’s plans seem to change on an almost daily basis; and even as recently as yesterday it was noted particularly that the League and the Player’s Association (NFLPA) continue discussions on how to move forward during this pandemic.

During a teleconference with players, NFL Players Association general counsel Tom DePaso raised concerns about certain teams in” hot spots” opening up Training Camps, according to a detailed report by NJ Advance Media (

States that were referenced during a media conference call with DePaso were Florida, California, Arizona, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, and of course, now Louisiana as well.

Player safety was the #1 topic of discussion, after a previous meeting with medical experts had been conducted with regard to starting Training Camps in those locations and how safe it would actually be, according to the report.

Just in those 7 total states alone seeing exponential increases in cases of coronavirus, 12 of the NFL’s 32 teams are located within the proximity of those “hot spots”; including the Saints in NOLA and where Governor Edwards just recently mandated that ALL Louisiana residents wear a mask in public settings such as grocery stores and restaurants.

Photo courtesy of John Bel Edwards office

With the implementation of all of these safety measures and health protocols, it’s thrown the entire world of sports — both at the college and professional level — into an abyss filled with uncertainty.

An abyss that’s now added even further drama to a Saints 2020 Off-Season that will go down in franchise history as one of the more unforgettable ones ever, if not THE most unforgettable one of all-time.

Along with the coronavirus that back in the month of March was responsible for infecting Saints head coach Sean Payton (who made a full recovery), there’s also been the social unrest that came with the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests and “Black Lives Matter” movement, of which several Saints players have voiced their full support for.

Then of course there was the whole ‘controversy’ involving Saints QB Drew Brees and his comments during an interview with Yahoo! Finance, which led to him having to eventually ‘back track’ and issue a public apology as well as having to make amends with his teammates who disagreed with his original stance.

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints, YouTube

That particular issue ended up having a domino effect, which led to President Trump himself personally interjecting his own thoughts and comments (perhaps unsolicited and unwarranted) into the situation and saying that Brees “caved in to the pressure.” 

Not surprisingly, Trump’s comments were taken literally by many of his supporters that consider themselves Saints fans, and those same portion of fans then attacked the character of Brees and unmercifully began criticizing him on Social Media forums such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; and often times through rather lewd and disgusting language.

And that wasn’t the end of it unfortunately, as team owner Gayle Benson herself has become entangled in controversy in recent weeks, for moving forward with plans to change the original name of the iconic local NOLA beer brand “Dixie Beer” because of its connection to the racist past of the Deep South and the post-Civil War Era; dating back over a century and a half ago.

That came on the heels of a report back in February by the New Orleans Advocate that stated hundreds of confidential Saints e-mails allegedly had shown that some of the team’s top executives did public relations “damage control” for the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, in the midst of its clergy abuse crisis.

That same report is said to have led many loyal Saints fans (especially those who aren’t Catholic) in New Orleans and beyond, to question if what the Saints did for the church was appropriate or not.

It was noted in that story that a review of tax documents by the Associated Press found that the Bensons’ foundation has given at least $62 million to the Archdiocese of New Orleans and other Catholic causes over the past dozen years, including gifts to schools, universities, charities and individual parishes.

Photo Credit: New Orleans Saints on

And last but not least: safety Malcolm Jenkins, the team’s original 2009 Draft choice who won the Super Bowl with the Saints as a rookie — and who the team signed in the Off-Season in Free Agency after he played 6 seasons (and won another Super Bowl title) for the Philadelphia Eagles — came “under fire”for his statements which some felt was disparaging remarks against persons of Jewish heritage.

Jenkins. who was defending his former Eagles teammate DeSean Jackson over comments that the Philadelphia wide receiver had made regarding Jews himself, said publicly not long after that his comments in support of Jackson were misconstrued; and they were made without any willful or harmful intentions towards Jewish people or the Jewish religion / faith.

As you can plainly see from that whole entire series of seemingly never-ending events, it’s been a year thus far filled with an inordinate amount of drama for the Black and Gold — an amount of drama that’s unlikely to simply just “go away” anytime soon — given everything that’s still going on as you read this very article this morning.

It goes without saying that it’s the type of drama that most Saints Football fans don’t really want to see, and would prefer it be the sort of drama that they’re more typically used to experiencing, which is the recent “heart-breaks” in the Playoffs over the course of the past 3 seasons in particular.

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints, YouTube

That said, the drama that comes along with being eliminated from having a shot at winning a Super Bowl in the manner that they have, is one that they’d just assume forget as well.

Nevertheless. current events likely will dictate that whichever sort of drama lies in their path over the course of the next few upcoming weeks and months ahead, will be unforgettable on many levels to be sure.

With the Saints likely to remain prominently in the national spotlight so to speak, it means that even if the season is played without any of their devoted fans in the stands at all, their upcoming season is definitely still going to be one that’s “made for TV”….

Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked previously as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending their games as a young boy during the early 1970’s, uptown at the old Tulane Stadium. He is also the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius

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