Famous late New Orleans radio talk show personality Buddy Diliberto used to always say something to my buddy Ralph Malbrough that always resonated with me: "never listen to what they say, watch what they do" in reference to the Saints' front office. Watching their moves, the theory goes, would tell you everything you ever need to know about their thought process, while the words they share with the media only serve to further their agenda and paint public perception. So I watched them waive Johnny Patrick and upon further reflection it told me something.
When the Saints released their 3rd round draft pick in 2010 Johnny Patrick, at first I wasn't that surprised. He had a miserable first two seasons with the team and just never seemed to live up to the high draft pick the Saints invested in him. Still, cutting a third round pick before year three is bad. All the more head scratching when you consider that he cost very little against the cap so the Saints didn't really get much needed relief by parting ways with him. So why now? I am sickened to admit that I agree with Jeff Duncan of the Times Picayune on this one when I say that the timing of this release is really suspicious. And why did Jeff dig no deeper than that statement? Was he protecting a colleague? Why can Patrick now when they could at least give him a shot to compete one last time in training camp before letting him go? He might suck, but he doesn't suck worse than a camp body like Cord Parks that will probably be one of the first players cut next season.
Then it all hit me. I remembered that Larry Holder dropped this bombshell, citing an anonymous defensive player on the team, suggesting that Steve Spagnuolo should be fired. Granted he was fired, so obviously the player's comments were accurate and many people on the Saints (players and coaches alike) agreed with the sentiment communicated here. Still, the players were vocal on twitter about not appreciating a player not keeping his thoughts "in house". In fact, Vilma went out to call the guy who did this a coward on twitter for not attaching his name to it. Vilma was asked point blank if he agreed with the comments and he said that wasn't the point. By saying nothing, Vilma of course pretty much metaphorically shouted from the rooftops that he wanted Spagnuolo fired as well. That said, he was also very vocal in saying that he didn't agree with whatever the "anonymous" player (that Larry Holder continues to protect by virtue of his moral duty as a journalist) did. Other players on the defense echoed similar feelings.
Fast forward to Sean Payton being reintstated, and his paranoia/disdain for revealing ANYTHING to the local media, and you knew he was never going to stand for this kind of thing. Whoever the player was, he was going to find out, and there was going to be hell to pay. So who has been cut since then? David Thomas and Johnny Patrick, and that's it (Thomas didn't play defense). And of all the players on defense that carry high cap figures when the Saints are so desperate to fix their financial problems, they cut the most inexpensive one. Suspect. There is no way I am buying that waiving Johnny Patrick is the first gut move in reaction to being the worst defense in NFL history unless there's more to the story. And yeah, Patrick was horrible, but no worse than every other single player on this defense not named Jordan, Lofton or Abdul-Quddus. And think about the message it sends to the team, something that you KNOW Payton found necessary upon coming back to kick his defensive unit in the pants. It sends the message that they are a tight knit group and they keep things in house. If a player upsets that balance, regardless of his high draft status, he's gone. That's enough to shake the foundation of every player and help them remember that in the NFL, no one is safe.
I asked Larry Holder on twitter about this theory and he never responded. This is speculation, of course, and I want to be clear about that. But as far as I'm concerned, his lack of a response told me exactly what I needed to know.
And frankly, if Johnny Patrick is the blabber, then I'm glad this happened. There's no room on the team for a guy that would rather spill his guts to Larry Holder with a pinky promise not to tell than share his feelings with the coaching staff and keep it private. What he did caused the friction that was happening in the locker room to be viewed by the outside public, and that's never ok. Bottom line, and most importantly, that's just not what the Saints are about.
What do you think? Is there any way Johnny Patrick isn't the blabber?