I think it’s safe to say that most Saints fans are cautiously optimistic about this coming season. Last year, as we all know, was a long one as accusations and scandals filled the Louisiana pro-football headlines and we all tried to figure out what was real or not.
But, it also feels like a distant memory now, doesn’t it? I had to struggle for a moment to remember if it was last year or a couple of years ago. It was a hard time for all of us, wondering what the future held.
One person who had to be more nervous than the rest of us was Jonathan Vilma, the linebacker who faced a year-long suspension when the scandal first erupted and the iron fist of Roger Goodell cast down judgment. Despite all that persecution, however, Vilma is telling the folks at the Times-Picayune that, despite the “raw deal” that was the so-called “Bounty-gate,” he is glad he took the pay cut to stay with the team.
Vilma and Will Smith each took a big cut to stay with the team. Vilma is also fresh after healing up a knee injury that’s bothered him for a couple of years now, and things look bright for the Saints defense. No matter what you think of Rob Ryan, he is certainly enthusiastic about where things are going, too.
Of the moves the Saints have made in the off-season, I don’t think any could be as important as keeping those two. It took a big paycut (Vilma went from $6 million with bonuses to $1.2 million), but they could end up being huge boons for a defense that New Orleans needs to see.
You may think it odd that I’m already talking about football when the school year isn’t even over and we only just finished baseball. However, as a friend of mine who is much more knowledgeable in sports than I am likes to say, it’s a year-long sport.
Despite what has happened in the past, it’s always really important for players and fans to remember that each year is a brand new one, and you can’t rely on the past to get you going. Sure, your team may not have changed more or at all, but someone has and it could be the difference between winning and losing seasons.