Suit: Zero Evidence Linking Payton To Drug Abuse

A civil lawsuit against the New Orleans Saints over constructive discharge (quitting under duress) was filed last Friday by the club’s former security director Geoff Santini.

Geoff Santini Lawsuit Against The Saints Includes Drug Claim Against Sean Payton

In the suit Santini cites an unnamed senior staff member, first reported by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk as head coach Sean Payton, being “distributed” prescription painkillers improperly from Saints head trainer Scottie Patton. (Page 2, Item 7)

Though he did not confirm that he was one of the individuals named in Santini’s lawsuit, in a statement today Payton denied ever improperly using prescription drugs.

I have reviewed Geoff Santini’s lawsuit and the unwarranted publicity it has received. I have never abused or stolen vicodin or any other medication.

In reading the 13-page Santini lawsuit filing, I also found no evidence cited by Santini suggesting Payton did anything wrong.

Though Payton is getting most of the media attention, the focus of Santini’s suit actually barely involves the Saints head coach. Instead, the thrust of the civil claim stems from videotape evidence that another senior Saints staff member, reportedly linebackers coach Joe Vitt, stole a total of 20 Vicodin pills from a team medical cabinet on April 29-30, 2009.

Santini then cites a subsequent, alleged coverup attempt by Saints officials on why those pills, and 110 others, went missing as the reason for his constructive discharge.

On June 23, 2009, Santini reported the evidence of the misappropriation of prescription meds by the Saints, with approval from team General Manager Mickey Loomis, to the U.S. Attorney’s Eastern District of Louisiana office. 11 months later, with no criminal charges brought against any member of the Saints organization, Santini filed a civil suit against the club last Friday.

Though Florio at Pro Football Talk reports that before Santini sued the team, he offered to drop all claims against the club for a seven-figure payout.

Multiple sources tell us that, before filing suit, Santini requested payment in the amount of $2 million in exchange for a full and complete settlement of his claims. … As we understand it, the Saints did not respond to the opening demand.

Per our sources, Santini’s counsel, Donald Hyatt, eventually offered to make a bottom-line, non-negotiable demand. The number was significantly lower than $2 million, and possibly less than $1 million.

In response, no offer came from the Saints.

That said, we’ve picked up indications that the Saints were trying on Friday to put together a package in the low six figures.

From the amount of material evidence supporting Santini’s claim of prescription drug abuse and a subsequent effort within the organization to cover it up, it isn’t hard to figure out why the Saints aren’t settling - and the Feds haven’t brought charges against any member of the club.

Read more…

Saints Release Player Over Botched Investments?

As long snappers go, Kevin Houser was unremarkable. That may not seem like a compliment, but considering the fact that the only time anyone ever talks about a long snapper is when he screws something up, “unremarkable” is the gold standard for long snappers. To that end, he never biffed a snap that led to a missed field goal or blocked punt.

Kevin Houser jerseys? But why?
(God, I hope they’re related to him.)

And yet all the same, the Saints released him last week, even though they stand to save no money with his departure; his likely replacement will earn $100,000 more than Houser. Well, check that; the Saints won’t be saving any money against the salary cap; their own pocketbooks are a different matter.

Read more…

NO Saints Coach Knows Plenty About Screenplays

There’s something in the human endeavor that encourages those successful in one arena to attempt success in a wildly different one.  For example, NFL people can’t stop diving into Hollywood helmet-first.  Jim Brown is the textbook example, but Merlin Olsen and Alex Karros couldn’t resist working in front of the camera.  Michael Strahan owes much to the FTD Florists man.

Sean Payton accepts Coach of the Year

(Next stop: The Academy Awards)

And now New Orleans head coach Sean Payton wants in on the action.  He wrote a screenplay, you see, and he… wait, he didn’t even write the screenplay?  He had a four-page idea for a screenplay and gave it to someone to write and now CAA is shopping it? That’s how it works? No wonder NFL players want into Hollywood; they work that hard before lunch at the first two-a-days of the year.

Read more…

Speed Read: Your MRI Machine Is Ready, Mr. Oden

Yup, Greg Oden hurt his foot less than three minutes into his first regular season game against the Lakers. That’s not a punchline to a joke, but the sad truth. He played through the first half before throwing in the towel. ESPN.COM reports that Oden suffered a mid-foot sprain, which sounds like a made up injury you would use to get out of work, but apparently you can get if you are made out of peanut brittle.

Greg Oden

Not that Oden was tearing the joint up. His stat line for the game: 0-4 from the field and five rebounds in 13 minutes.  Which puts him about on par with the rest of the Blazers, as they were thumped by Los Angeles 96-76. As for Oden…he has a trip to the MRI machine scheduled for later today, or as he calls it, “The Mother Ship.”

Derrick Rose

Having a much better NBA debut was Derrick Rose, who scored 11 points and had nine assists as the Bulls stuck it to their ex-coach Scott Skiles by beating the Bucks 108-95. Meanwhile, that clanging you heard in Boston was LeBron James rattling free throws all over the place against the Celtics. He missed four of eight free throws, all in the fourth quarter, and Cleveland fell 90-85.

Here’s some more of last night’s news, but be forewarned: Bud Selig says that he has the power to suspend this after six links.

Gary Danielson and Colt McCoy

  • CBS analyst Gary Danielson thinks that Texas runs a “junk offense” and that Georgia’s Matthew Stafford would be putting up Colt McCoy-type numbers in that offense, says the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. No SEC homerism there at all.
  • The man who saved the NBA during the lockout in 1999, according to the DETROIT NEWS? Not David Stern. Not Billy Hunter? Nope, it was Michael Curry.
  • Relax, says the DENTON RECORD-CHRONICLE: it turns out that those 15 North Texas football players tested positive for recreational drugs, not steroids. Which is great, because we wouldn’t want their run at an 0-12 season to be tainted.
  • The AP has a tip for Eli Manning - don’t let the defense read your lips when you call a play on fourth down. It kind of helps them know what to do.
  • The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS estimates that only 20,000 people will be on hand to see Stanford take on Washington State this Saturday, even though the Cardinal are 3-0 at home this year and fighting for a bowl berth.
  • Even after having beaten the Chargers in a thriller on Sunday, the NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE says that Saints coach Sean Payton was less than thrilled with the experience of playing in London.
  • The BOSTON GLOBE reports that Patriots’ nose tackle Vince Wilfork is going to be getting called to the Principal’s office - in this case NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell - for his blow to the head of Broncos’ QB Jay Cutler. Wait, I thought the Patriots were perfect schoolboys who never, ever committed any penalties?
  • Will the expansion Seattle Sounders get more from signing Swedish star Freddie Ljungberg than the LA Galaxy did from David Beckham? Arash Markashi of SI.COM thinks so.
  • Why would Isiah Thomas apparently continue to lie about his alleged sleeping pill overdose? The local police chief speculates to NEWSDAY it might be because of his contract. “If he takes drugs or whatever they may not owe him the $18 million. I have no idea.”
  • Remember when Joe Tiller said that Rich Rodriguez was a “snake oil salesman” after Purdue lost a big recruit to Michigan? The DETROIT FREE-PRESS says that there’s really no bad blood there. Really.

What will be Greg Oden’s next injury to knock him out of action?

View Results

Country Star Loves NFL, Really Loves NFL Players

Kenny Chesney loves football. Not as much as he loves Peyton Manning, but it’s close. Yesterday, the country music star made his second straight appearance at Saints’ training camp.

Kenny Chesney works out with Saints

And because he’s head coach Sean Payton’s good buddy, Chesney not only got a practice jersey (it even had his name on it!), but he also got to work out with the first team, something Reggie Bush hasn’t always been able to say. In addition to fielding punts and catching passes from quarterback Drew Brees, we also learned that Chesney has a fondness for helping grown men undress.

Read more…