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Times-Picayune Columnist Jeff Duncan: ‘Roger Goodell Should Be Hailed As A New Orleans Hero’

A. Messerschmidt, Getty Images

As a Saints fan, today was a day of ups, and downs. On the upside, the NFL reinstated Saints head coach Sean Payton. On the downside, I read one of the most baseless, illogical – and just plain disrespectful columns from Jeff Duncan, a New Orleans sports beat writer who believes that at Super Bowl XLVII,

Roger Goodell should be hailed as a New Orleans hero.

- Jeff Duncan, The Times-Picayune

Jeff Duncan’s ‘About Me’ claims that he grew up in Louisville, Ky., but considers himself “a proud New Orleanian after 13 years in the city.” Tell me what “proud New Orleanian” can even utter the name “Goodell” without an immediate feeling of disdain? Does Jeff Duncan really think we should revere the same egomaniac who vehemently played the role of judge, jury, and executioner at the forefront of a Bountygate scandal that has since been proven to be severely mishandled and ‘contaminated’ with inaccuracies?

At first, I seriously had to do a double take at my web browser to make sure that I wasn’t reading The Onion, a website known for it’s hilarious satirical articles. Then, once I realized it was indeed a legit column, I wondered if this was purposely done to troll Saints fans in an effort to evoke emotion, and generate web hits. In all fairness, allow me to give you Duncan’s reasoning behind this seemingly insane request.

A. Messerschmidt, Getty Images

Duncan’s article states that Roger Goodell should be praised as a hero, reminding the people of the New Orleans about all the good that he did for the city after Hurricane Katrina.

In those grim days of late 2005 and early 2006, when the flood lines were still fresh, there weren’t a lot of folks standing beside the city. To the contrary, much of America had abandoned us, including many folks inside the Saints organization. But Goodell never wavered in his support. As the league’s chief operating officer at the time, he not only stood beside New Orleans, he spearheaded vital parts of the city’s recovery.

He goes on to speak of Goodell’s work with local leaders to rebuild the Superdome, clearing “hurdles” in D.C. to expedite the construction process. He even included a quote directly from Doug Thornton, the vice president of stadiums for SMG.

Roger was with us when it counted. He worked and sweated here. People don’t realize . . . he was in the weeds with us.

Duncan also said that New Orleans “owes Goodell a thank you” for even having a pro football team to cheer for in their city, reminding fans of a time when team owner Tom Benson’s popularity hit an all time low after it appeared as if he was trying to move the team to San Antonio after Hurricane Katrina.

Without Goodell, there’s no Dome-coming and no blocked punt. There’s possibly no Super Bowl XLIV victory or Lombardi Gras parade.

As outlandishly trollish as it may be, I encourage you to read his entire column. 

Look, I’m just a DJ who happens to love the Saints, my home state of Louisiana, and it’s crowned jewel that we know as the city of New Orleans – and I’m well aware that my opinion may not matter to most, but my message to Jeff Duncan is this:

How dare you? 

Using the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina’s disastrous affect on the city of New Orleans as a platform to humiliate it’s residents is disgusting in every sense of the word. Criticizing them for their disgust with a man whose proven reckless and unfair handling of the very team that you credit as their savior of their city, shows just how flawed your logic is.

The mere suggestion – let alone the elaborate picture that you painted – that everyone BUT Roger Goodell forgot about New Orleans, is a slap in the face of every community, school, business, church, and Red Cross group who donated countless hours to the recovery of the city. Oh, not to mention the millions of Americans outside of New Orleans who donated time and money to help rebuild in the wake of disaster.

Mario Tama, Getty Images

You speak of Goodell like you have photos of him wearing a hard hat and holding a shovel in some photo taken strictly for PR purposes. What’s funny, is when I searched for any trace of the aforementioned, the results were just as non-existent as any real Bountygate evidence.

Believe me, I’m well aware of Goodell’s role in the rebuilding of the Superdome, as well as his involvement in making sure the Saints stay in a city that would need them more than ever to bounce back. I read all about it in this Yahoo Sports! story written by Les Carpenter.

The story he tells does a lot less criticizing, and is very unbiased in how it tells the tale of Goodell going from hero, to villain in the Big Easy. Some people call that type of writing “good journalism.” You should look into it.

Let’s be real, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Roger Goodell had a job; and that job was to do what Paul Tagliabue told him to. He followed orders, and he collected a large paycheck – unlike those volunteers that we should recognize as the REAL “heroes” that were in the trenches during the rebuilding of New Orleans.

Ethan Miller, Getty Images

But back to my comparison of your story to the similar Yahoo Sports! article. The glaring difference between the two is that Les Carpenter’s words don’t carry a scolding tone. As a matter of fact, if asked to identify the author without knowing who wrote either article, one would swear his was written by the author who describes himself as a “proud New Orleanian,” who has spent his past 13 years living in the city.

Do I think that New Orleans folks should make Roger Goodell’s time in New Orleans miserable? No. Do I think he should have to hire security, taste-testers, and look over his shoulder at every street corner? No. Should any “ugly incident” involving Goodell “mar the festivities?” Hell no.

But, should New Orleans bow in his presence and kiss the once-flooded ground he chooses to walk on, praising him as a hero after he abused his power – penalizing their players, coaches, and the entire Who Dat Nation – in a sham blanketed with concern for player safety?

HELL NO!

Chris Graythen, Getty Images

While the tongue-in-cheek comments from guys like Bobby Hebert may describe Saints fans giving Goodell tough time in the 504 during his visit for Super Bowl XLVII, it’s also important to know what is real, and what are jokes. Those “silly self-serving ‘Do Not Serve’ signs” that you described hanging behind the counters of local restauranteurs and shopkeepers, is their way of letting Goodell know that they don’t appreciate him making their beloved Black and Gold a sacrificial lamb in his mission to gain credibility as a vindicator of player safety.

Above all Jeff, a man of your professional background should have been amongst, if not the first to see what was really at the center of the Bountygate absurdity. To suggest that New Orleans should hail Goodell as a hero because of his post-Katrina efforts, and ignore what he did to the Saints franchise – and ultimately it’s fan base – with his shark-jumping Bountygate antics, is like saying that it’s ok for someone to steal money from you, just as long as they let you borrow money in the past.

Maybe your column was written for a chance to sit at the kid’s table at one of the many league luncheons and dinners that will take place leading up to the Super Bowl. Maybe it was written with hopes of a shot at the next level with the likes of the NFL Network or ESPN. If so, as one of your commenters so eloquently put it; good luck, and good riddance.

Saints fans, be gracious. Have class. But don’t feel the need to sing the praises of a commissioner who was simply doing his job in the wake of Katrina, and whose careless lips wrote checks that cost New Orleans a playoff appearance at minimum, and possibly a Super Bowl appearance.

Checks that facts have proven were NSF.

Jeff Duncan, you have insulted the intelligence of New Orleans, its residents, and the entire Who Dat Nation – and for that, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Do you think Roger Goodell’s post-Katrina efforts should vindicate him from his mishandling of Bountygate? Should New Orleans praise him as a hero? Comment with your thoughts now!

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