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Cheap Authentic NFL Saints Womens Throwback Archie Manning Jersey

The New Orleans Saints have given their fans some moments to treasure over their 51-year history. There have certainly been some moments that would make any grown man speechless with rage as well. Today, Canal Street Chronicles looks back in history at precisely such moments.

The date was Sunday, November 12, 1978.
The New Orleans Saints were taking on their bitter division rivals, the Atlanta Falcons. The game was held in the friendly confines of the Louisiana Superdome, where the majority of the approximately 72,000 people in attendance would be screaming their encouragement for the hometown Saints. Both teams entered their first of two matchups on the 1978 season riding a wave of momentum. Atlanta had won four consecutive games to enter this contest with a 6-4 record. New Orleans, meanwhile, had overcome a 2-4 start to win 3 of it’s previous 4 games to enter this showdown with a 5-5 record. The matchup also carried extra significance; not only had both teams positioned themselves for a late season playoff push, but neither franchise had ever made the postseason during it’s existence.

The game started somewhat slowly, with a Saints field goal as the only score of the 1st Quarter, which was matched by Atlanta in the second to even the score. New Orleans quarterback Archie Manning would lead the Saints on a 64-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Tony Galbreath. The Saints then got the ball back with 1:24 left in the half, driving down the field quickly, moving 54 yards in just six plays. A 14-yard touchdown strike from Manning to tight end Henry Childs put New Orleans up, 17-3, at the halftime break.

The Saints running back duo of Galbreath and Chuck Muncie controlled the game on the ground, combining for 35 carries as the team rushed for 166 yards. New Orleans wide receiver Wes Chandler had a dominant afternoon. He caught 7 of Manning’s 14 completions, for a game-high 117 of Manning’s 169 passing yards. The Saints defense, considered the weaker unit on the team, held Atlanta to just 16 first downs and 284 yards for the game.

After the Falcons narrowed the Saints lead to 17-6 on a 3rd Quarter field goal, it appeared as if New Orleans had put itself in position to nearly clinch this pivotal matchup. A Saints drive took them inside the Atlanta 10-yard line with a little over 13 minutes to go in the contest, but an Archie Manning fumble negated the scoring opportunity. The New Orleans defense continued to hold strong, until an 80-yard Atlanta touchdown march that started with 2:23 to play made the score 17-13, in favor of New Orleans. The score came with just 57 seconds left in the game, forcing the Falcons to attempt an onside kick. New Orleans recovered the attempt, giving them possession of the ball at their own 49-yard line, and the game seemingly clinched. The sequence of events that happened next tortures the memories of Saints fans to this day.

Three straight plays gained eight yards, bringing the Saints to a 4th and 2 at the Atlanta 43-yard line. Amazingly, unbelievably, and excruciatingly, Saints coach Dick Nolan went against the logic of punting the football, and instead elected to attempt to get the first down. The ensuing sweep to the right side by Saints running back Chuck Muncie was stopped for no gain, giving Atlanta possession of the ball at their own 43-yard line with 19 seconds remaining in the game.

Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski trotted out with his offense and a single play call, named “Big Ben Right”. Atlanta lined three receivers out to the right side of their formation: Billy Ryckman, Wallace Francis, and Alfred Jackson. Bartkowski took the snap and threw the ball deep down the field. Francis had separated himself slightly from his teammates and the group of Saints defenders down the field. The football made it’s descent at around the New Orleans 16-yard line, where Francis went up simultaneously with Saints defensive backs Ralph McGill and Clarence Chapman. The three players batted the ball straight up into the air, where a trailing Alfred Jackson snatched the ball at the Saints’ 11 and sprinted into the end zone for an unbelievable 57-yard touchdown and a deflating 20-17 Atlanta victory.

Two weeks later, on November 26, the teams met again, this time in Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium. The beginning of the game picked right up from the wild finish of two weeks earlier. Atlanta drove right down the field for a touchdown on their first drive, then intercepted Archie Manning on the Saints first offensive play deep in New Orleans territory. Fortunately for the Saints, Atlanta missed a short field goal attempt. Just two plays later, Manning connected with tight end Larry Hardy on a 71-yard touchdown strike to tie the game at seven. Halfway into the second quarter, the Falcons benefited from a botched punt attempt by New Orleans deep in their territory, converting the chance into a field goal, and a 10-7 advantage. The lead did not last long, as the Saints drove down the field, scoring on a 28-yard Chuck Muncie touchdown run, and taking a 14-10 lead into the halftime break.

The Saints did not have the rushing success they had two weeks earlier, but Muncie and Tony Galbreath did combine for 113 yards on the ground. Tight end Henry Childs led all receivers on the afternoon, with 100 yards on only 3 catches. Atlanta, on the other hand, did have more success offensively than they did in the teams’ first matchup, nearly doubling the Saints total of first downs, on their way to almost 400 yards of total offense. The New Orleans defense did stiffen twice in the first half inside their own 20, and repeated the feat twice more in the second half. A 3rd Quarter Saints field goal widened their lead to 17-10, but two times in the second half the Falcons had driven the ball inside the New Orleans 20-yard line. They came up empty each time, as the Saints defense came up with turnovers on both occasions.

A 14 play, 73-yard 4th Quarter drive by Atlanta netted the Falcons a field goal, narrowing the Saints lead to 17-13. The drive, however, bled the game clock from 10:20 to just over 3 minutes to go. New Orleans was only able to convert a single first down following the kick, and punted the ball down to the Atlanta 28-yard line with just 53 seconds to play, but leaving the Falcons with zero timeouts. Bartkowski quickly drove his team down to the Saints 34 yard line on three completions, still leaving 23 seconds to go for another miracle finish.

Bartkowski’s first pass sailed near the Saints end zone, where Superdome hero Alfred Williams nearly duplicated a heart stopping end, but couldn’t quite handle the throw. Bartkowski then threw a shorter sideline pattern to Jackson, bringing the ball to the Saints’ 25 and stopping the clock with 16 seconds. Another Falcon end zone attempt was this time intercepted by Saints defensive back Ralph McGill, seemingly clinching the game for New Orleans. Unfortunately, a pass interference penalty on Saints defender Maurice Spencer reversed the play, and moved Atlanta to the Saints 1-yard line with 10 seconds to go. Bartkowski then found tight end Jim Mitchell for a touchdown on the next play, giving the Falcons yet another improbable 20-17 last second victory.

The 1978 Atlanta Falcons finished the regular season with a 9-7 record, and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in their team’s history. They hosted the Philadelphia Eagles in a first round wild card playoff game, emerging as 14-13 winners before losing to Dallas in the divisional round the following week.

The 1978 New Orleans Saints won two of their final 3 games to finish their year with a record of 7-9, the best in their franchise history. Most Saints fans, however, will always remember the ’78 season as a classic case of “what could have been”, and yet another reason to despise the Atlanta Falcons.

Cheap Wholesale NFL Saints Alex Anzalone Jerseys 2017

New Orleans Saints rookie linebacker Alex Anzalone produced a defensive gem in the preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns.

With less than 15 seconds remaining in the first half, Browns quarterback Cody Kessler threw a pass almost 20 yards down the middle of the field to wide receiver Rannell Hall, who appeared to be open.

But Anzalone, who dropped back in coverage from his weak side linebacker position, reacted to the pass by leaping in the air with his left arm extended. His fingers grazed the ball enough to affect the trajectory, causing it to bounce off Hall’s chest and fall incomplete to force fourth-and-10.

Great play, indeed, but the rookie didn’t have the full opportunity to enjoy it.

Drew Brees’ frustration highlights observations from Day 14 of Saints training camp
Drew Brees’ frustration highlights observations from Day 14 of Saints training camp
Fan fest on hand to watch Sunday’s practice

“I first got off to the sideline and realized they were – it was like 6 seconds left in the half – they were going for it to run the time out,” Anzalone said with a chuckle. “I got a couple of high-fives, then had to run back on the field all panicking, so I didn’t really think much about it.

“I was excited I made that play because that was something we worked on as a linebacker group.”

That he was able to transfer practice to live action isn’t a surprise when considering the 6-foot-3, 241-pound Anzalone has shown an ability to consistently be around passes through 14 days of training camp practices.

While he recorded just two passes defensed in four years at Florida, the Saints already knew Anzalone could drop back in coverage and the skill set would transition well in the team’s defensive scheme.

“That was one of the things you saw in his college play,” linebackers coach Mike Nolan said. “That’s not a surprise; that’s what we expected.”

Anzalone, the Saints’ second of three third-round picks in the NFL Draft, has rotated at the weak side linebacker position with the first- and second-team defensive units throughout training camp.

Saints WR coach Curtis Johnson brings back unique method to emphasize ball security
Saints WR coach Curtis Johnson brings back unique method to emphasize ball security
Johnson was also with Saints from 2006-11

And he has made head-turning coverage plays on an almost daily basis.

As an example on Saturday during 11-on-11 drills, he jumped to tip a Drew Brees pass at the line of scrimmage, resulting in a pick-6 by defensive end Cameron Jordan.

He then showed athleticism and speed in Sunday’s one-on-one drills, featuring running backs against linebackers.

Anzalone, whose 4.63 40-yard dash was the fourth-fastest time among linebackers invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in February, drew the coverage against running back Adrian Peterson. Anzalone stayed with Peterson down the right sideline before looking back to locate the pass and knock it away.

Sooner or later, quarterbacks will be cautious throwing the football around Anzalone, but he understands why his coverage skills could fly under the radar.

At 90, Tom Benson still going strong, competitive as ever
At 90, Tom Benson still going strong, competitive as ever
Venerable N.O. native is third-oldest owner in NFL

“You build your credibility on your film,” Anzalone said. “I think that being a rookie and not having any film out there, I mean, even to prove to the guys here at practice, I think I’ve done that. I think that’s just something you have to put on film, and then people will respect it.”

In the meantime, Anzalone is locked in a position battle with veteran Craig Robertson, who led the Saints in tackles in 2016, at the weak side linebacker position.

Anzalone, however, could be on a path to make an impact in his rookie season if he continues making plays the rest of training camp and preseason action.

“He’s competing to play an every-down role, which is good,” Nolan said. “That’s nice for a rookie. Whether he get gets it or not, we’ll wait and see.”

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New Orleans Saints rookie safety Marcus Williams is a student of the game.

The Saints’ second-round pick said he spends a lot of his downtime breaking down film and immersing himself in the playbook.

He also looks around the league to study other players manning his position.

“I look at a lot of safeties and not just particular, like one,” Williams said. “I mean, I just look at the great ones and follow what they do.”

So who are the NFL’s great safeties currently in the league?

“I really don’t like to say that now,” he said with a wide grin. “We’re all in the same league. I mean, they know who they are.”

If the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Williams continues to show progress like he has through seven days of practice in training camp, he could eventually join their ranks and have others studying him.

Marcus Williams making plays in camp but focused on doing it consistently
Williams, who has received work with the first- and second-team defensive units, has displayed a knack for being around the football.

He said the game is slowing down for him with help from teammates and the coaching staff, and Williams has knocked away passes and notched interceptions during team-related drills.

The Saints knew what he brings to the backend of coverage from his college career at Utah, where he totaled 188 tackles (125 solo), 11 interceptions, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and eight passes defensed.
“If you looked at his college numbers, he was probably the most productive safety in regards to turnover production,” coach Sean Payton said.

Impressive production, for sure, and Williams prides himself in being around the football.

6 observations from Day 7 of Saints training camp
6 observations from Day 7 of Saints training camp
Notes from Thursday’s session

“I feel like that’s what I hold myself accountable to do is go get the ball,” he said. “Since I was in high school and college, that’s what I always practiced on doing is going to get the ball, being in position, watch enough film and being in my playbook in order to put myself in position to make those plays.”

Quarterback Drew Brees found out on the sixth practice of training camp what happens when Williams sniffs out a play.

During a 7-on-7 drill, rookie running back Alvin Kamara split wide of the line of scrimmage and took off down the sideline at the snap. Kamara easily beat linebacker Craig Robertson before Brees lofted a pass for what looked like a big play.

Williams, however, saw the play develop in front of him and ran over to make a leaping interception.

“It’s like a dream come true,” Williams said of picking off Brees. “Going against one of the great quarterbacks, just coming in and being able to adjust is something that you always look forward to doing as a rookie.”

Sean Payton hopes Saints end ‘epidemic’ of bad shotgun snaps in training camp
Sean Payton hopes Saints end ‘epidemic’ of bad shotgun snaps in training camp
High and off target snaps have plagued the Saints centers this training camp

In the meantime, Williams’ ball hawking skills and potential are clear.

But he knows there is room for growth, citing tackling and being physical, in his goal to being on the field to become a difference maker for the Saints defense whenever the opportunity presents itself.
“It’s just about adjusting,” Williams said. “I feel like I need to continue to be consistent and doing what I do.”

Gallery: New Orleans Saints training camp Thursday, August 3, 2017

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New Orleans Saints veterans report for training camp on Wednesday, and the intense competition for positions will begin Thursday.
This year’s camp offers plenty of intrigue as the Saints have so many spots that should be hotly contested. Between the draft picks and free-agent acquisitions, there are plenty of new faces who will have a chance to earn critical roles quickly.
Some of the battles are easier to predict than others. A group of defensive ends will compete to be in the rotation with Cameron Jordan, but Alex Okafor probably has an advantage over Darryl Tapp, rookies Trey Hendrickson and Al-Quadin Muhammad and other contenders.
Filling defensive tackle Nick Fairley’s void is one of the most important things for the Saints to do this season, but Sheldon Rankins and David Onyemata have a great leg up on any of the other options.
All competitions are important, of course, because no matter who wins a starting job, the team must pay attention to building depth around the roster.
Here’s a look at the five most important position battles for this year’s camp:
(Photo by David Guralnick, | The Times-Picayune)
Ryan Ramczyk , New Orleans Saints OTA May 25, 2017
Left tackle
This is one spot the Saints hoped wouldn’t be up for grabs, but with Terron Armstead (shoulder) out until at least October, the team has to rely on someone else to protect Drew Brees’ blind side.
Rookie Ryan Ramczyk, this year’s 32nd overall pick, seems the most likely candidate to replace Armstead, but don’t be surprised if he starts camp with the second- or third-team offense. Coaches often like to make rookies climb their way up before winning a starting gig.
However, counting on a rookie left tackle in Week 1 is rarely desirable. There are examples of players thriving immediately, like Taylor Decker with the Detroit Lions last year, but it’s certainly a position where experience is preferred.
Khalif Barnes might be the best option among the veterans. He’s 35 years old, but entering his 13th season in the NFL, he should be ready to help if needed, especially now that he’s in much better shape than his brief time with the Saints in 2016.
Bryce Harris, who’s entering his sixth year, is the other veteran option, but he has just four career starts, compared to Barnes’ 117.
The other possibility the Saints could consider is moving Andrus Peat from left guard to left tackle, which they did last year when Armstead dealt with his injuries, and have Senio Kelemete play left guard. The problem with that idea is that Kelemete will likely spend all of camp playing center because Max Unger won’t be available — he’s targeting Week 1 — so it’d be best for the Saints if Ramczyk, Barnes or Harris can impress at left tackle.
(Photo by David Grunfeld, | The Times-Picayune)
Delvin Breaux, New Orleans Saints host the Detroit Lions 2016
Every cornerback spot
No position on the Saints roster has more unanswered questions than cornerback entering 2017.
Can Delvin Breaux return to his status as a No. 1 cornerback? How good will Marshon Lattimore be? Can Damian Swann stay healthy? Can P.J. Williams stay healthy? Will Sterling Moore be better now that he’s been in the scheme for a year? What kind of improvement will Ken Crawley and De’Vante Harris show in Year 2?
All these and more should eventually have answers, but for now, it’s impossible to project which players will be in coverage for the Saints to open the season. The most likely starting group is Breaux and Lattimore on the outside with Moore playing nickel, but there’s going to be a lot of competition across the board.
The Saints hope Lattimore will be able to play right away, but rookie cornerbacks typically face an adjustment process harder than most positions. Williams showed promise last year before a season-ending concussion in Week 2. Crawley was so close to making a lot of plays last year that any improvement could help him earn a role on the outside.
At nickel, Swann has played well, but Moore has a lot more experience. The team also likes undrafted rookie Arthur Maulet a lot as someone who can play inside.
Cornerback play has been one of the Saints’ biggest weaknesses the past few years, so they certainly hope improved competition in camp will lead to better performance.
(Photo by David Grunfeld, |The Times-Picayune)
A.J. Klein, New Orleans Saints mini camp second day 2017
Middle linebacker
This could easily say every linebacker spot, but the competition in the middle is the most important and should be the most hotly contested. At weak side, Dannell Ellerbe is the favorite whenever he’s healthy, and even though there will be a good competition for the strong-side job, that player will play 30 percent of snaps or less.
Meanwhile, the Saints defense still largely runs through the middle linebacker, and finding someone who can make the right calls as well as be a plus player is imperative. In 2015, Stephone Anthony made plenty of plays, but struggled with the other minutiae of the position. Last year, James Laurinaitis earned the job largely because of his football IQ, but couldn’t make enough plays.
For 2017, A.J. Klein, Manti Te’o and Craig Robertson are the top contenders for the role, but Anthony will have a chance, too.
Klein has the most lucrative contract of the middle linebackers, so the front office obviously expects him to contribute. Te’o’s best film is better than the other options, and he’s moving to a 4-3 system where he should be more comfortable than he was in the Chargers’ 3-4. Robertson’s knowledge of the Saints scheme can’t be overlooked either, and Anthony still has untapped potential.
With Te’o expected to be healthy for camp after being extremely limited this offseason, it shouldn’t take long to have an idea of where this competition stands.
(Photo by David Grunfeld, | The Times-Picayune)
Long snappers: Saints OTAs 6/1/17
Long snapper
After moving on from Justin Drescher, the Saints are hoping an upgrade at long snapper can improve the rest of their special teams units.
The battle between Thomas Gafford and Chase Dominguez certainly won’t be at the top of fans’ minds this summer, but it will be one of the most important competitions throughout camp.
Gafford, 34, is the experienced option, having played nine seasons including seven (2008-14) for the Kansas City Chiefs. He signed with the Saints after impressing during a minicamp tryout this spring.
Dominguez, 23, is an undrafted rookie who joined the Saints after snapping for Utah the previous four years.
This is a tough competition to handicap, but one the Saints want to pick right to ensure special teams can make significant strides in the kicking game.
(Photo by Michael DeMocker, | The Times-Picayune)

Return duties
Yes, two special teams roles are on this list. The Saints had so many errors in this phase of the game last year that it’s important they try to improve in as many ways as possible.
The Saints have several candidates with return skills, and the roles could change throughout the season. But, if they can find someone who can provide better field position for Drew Brees and the rest of the offense, it would obviously benefit the team significantly.
Tommylee Lewis, Travaris Cadet and Marcus Murphy all had chances as return men last season. None provided much consistency, but they’ll be in the mix once again during camp.
Among the new guys, wide receiver Ted Ginn and rookie running back Alvin Kamara will certainly have a chance to return. Rookie receiver Justin Thomas, the former Georgia Tech quarterback, also has the desired speed and agility for returns.
The veteran Ginn has ample experience returning punts and kickoffs, and he’s already said he wants to fight for the punt return job. With seven career return touchdowns, Ginn has a strong chance at winning return duties.
Kamara returned 26 punts the past two years at Tennessee with a solid 10.9-yard average. He also scored one touchdown in 2015. Kamara returned just one kickoff in college, but he has all the traits teams look for in a returner. And if the Saints lean heavily on Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson, using Kamara on returns would be a good way to get him on the field.

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For the sixth consecutive offseason, we’re ranking the New Orleans Saints’ top players; this year it’ll be their top 20. We’ll publish a new player each weekday as we inch closer to training camp.

Eight players from last year’s list are no longer on this year’s list: No. 4 Brandin Cooks, No. 9 Stephone Anthony, No. 10 Keenan Lewis, No. 11 Coby Fleener, No. 16 James Laurinaitis, No. 17 Jairus Byrd, No. 19 Tim Hightower, No. 20 Thomas Morstead.

This year’s list brought a unique challenge with a 40 percent turnover from the 2016 top 20 rankings. It’s difficult to decipher how well some players will recover from injury. It’s also a challenge to determine how good some of the newbies (young and old) will fit into the mix.

I sense there won’t be a consensus outside the No. 1 player:

No. 3: WR Michael Thomas

Last year’s rank: NR

Season: 2; Age: 24; Height: 6-3; Weight: 212

The Saints still have a wide receiver I consider a top-five player on their roster. It’s just a different name from last season.

The 2016 second-round pick emerged quickly during training camp a year ago and his trajectory continues to be on an upswing. Thomas will enter the 2017 campaign as the clear No. 1 target in the passing game and top wide receiver on the roster.
Thomas ranked ninth in the NFL in receptions (92) and receiving yards (1,137) last season. He also ended with eight receiving touchdowns, which placed him tied for sixth overall. There’s no denying the synergy between Thomas and Drew Brees.

Thomas’ almost immediate impact helped the Saints feel comfortable enough to deal Cooks to New England in a blockbuster trade this offseason. Teams will undoubtedly focus on Thomas without Cooks on the field anymore. Thomas will have to learn to adjust to the added attention.

He’s already taken steps to mold himself into a prototypical wideout. Thomas added about 10 pounds of muscle to bump him up to around 220 pounds. Already standing, 6-foot-3, it’s the type of frame you’re looking for in a No. 1 receiver.

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New Orleans Saints superfan Jarrius Robertson has been selected to receive the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at The ESPYS on July 12, it was announced Wednesday.

Robertson, 15, has undergone two liver transplants and 13 surgeries, but his health hasn’t kept him from being the Saints’ biggest cheerleader. He’s become a fixture at games and has also joined the team for practices

“When I first heard the news I thought I was dreaming!” Robertson said in a statement. “The ESPYS? For real? The past two years have been a blessing in so many ways for me and my family. I have been able to do things I never thought I would be able to do. But to be included with Craig Sager, Stuart Scott, Leah and Devon Still, Eric LeGrand and the man himself, Jimmy V, is truly amazing and I am really grateful and humbled.”
New Orleans Saints 15-year-old “hype man” Jarrius Robertson has battled biliary atresia for the majority of his life. Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
Robertson will be presented the award at the 25th annual ESPYS, which will air live on ABC from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

Robertson, who signed a “contract” last year on “Good Morning America” to become an official “hype man” for the Saints, has become a larger-than-life figure around the team, handing out an award on the NFL Honors awards show with Saints coach Sean Payton and Harry Connick Jr. earlier this year, among other appearances.

“As a coach, I am sure that Coach Valvano would love the energy and enthusiasm Jarrius brings to each day,” Payton said. “He would be proud to know that his mission of never giving up has been embraced by a young man who represents all the qualities that he looked for in a person. Jarrius is a perfect torch bearer for the Jimmy V Perseverance Award as his story and mission of ‘It takes lives to save lives’ resonates and touches everyone on so many different levels.”

The Saints first met Robertson when players visited Ochsner Hospital for Children in December 2015. His dynamic personality was on full display as he offered them coaching advice and declared, “Tell Sean Payton you got a new defensive coordinator!”

The Jimmy V Perseverance Award is given to someone in sports who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination. It is named for Valvano, the NCAA-winning coach who gave an emotional acceptance speech at the 1993 ESPYS that included his famous words “Don’t give up. … Don’t ever give up!” He died of cancer later that year.
Robertson battles biliary atresia — a chronic liver disease that affects his physical growth. He has been in and out of hospitals since receiving a liver transplant when he was 1. At one point, he was in a coma for an entire year. He received a second liver transplant on April 30.

“Jarrius is such an inspirational young man,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “His strength, determination and resolve along with his infectious energy and attitude should be an example that no matter the circumstances or adversity, with a positive outlook and embracing the motto of ‘Don’t give up. … Don’t ever give up,’ there isn’t a challenge that cannot be conquered.”

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METAIRIE, La. — My first reaction to the news that Nick Fairley is out for the season because of a heart condition has nothing to do with football.

It would be devastating news for anybody — and it’s an especially tough diagnosis for Fairley, who can’t seem to catch a break in the NFL. The 29-year-old finally had his breakout season with the New Orleans Saints last year after a turbulent start to his career, and he really seemed to enjoy playing close to his hometown of Mobile, Alabama, for the team his family grew up cheering on.

Fairley had a lot going on off the field last year, too, with the birth of his daughter and the unexpected death of his mother. I can’t even begin to imagine the emotional toll this has taken on him.
Nick Fairley won’t get a chance to follow up his 2016 season, which saw him record a career-high 6.5 sacks. Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports
I hope he’s at peace with the decision, though — or eventually gets there — because as obvious as the decision might seem, it can’t be easy for the player or team to potentially end Fairley’s career.

We don’t know all the details, since it involves Fairley’s private medical information. But according to Saints coach Sean Payton, at least one heart specialist suggested Fairley quit playing football, while at least one other was more optimistic. Also, Fairley has played with an enlarged heart without issue for six NFL seasons — though the condition had apparently become more concerning.

Regardless, it would have to be extremely difficult for a player to decide to take that kind of risk. And it has to be downright impossible for a team to take that risk, which is what the Saints ultimately decided.

Here are three more quick thoughts:

A win for player safety. Player safety has become a huge topic in the NFL, especially when it comes to the long-term effects of concussions. And it has been hotly debated how much the league and its teams care about the players’ well-being. This is obviously an instance in which the Saints are looking out for Fairley’s health — and their team doctors deserve a huge kudos for red-flagging the issue during his physical.

A skeptic might say the Saints have financial motives for placing Fairley on the non-football injury list — and they will likely fight to recoup some of his $8 million signing bonus and other guarantees. But the Saints obviously didn’t want this. They just signed Fairley to the richest deal of his career three months ago because they thought he was such a good fit in his first year in New Orleans last season.

Financial gray area. There is no black-and-white answer for how the financials will play out, since this is such a unique instance. In hindsight, the Saints never should have passed Fairley on his physical if they had any lingering doubts about the heart issue. But it’s possible they didn’t think it would be a major issue since Fairley had passed medical exams throughout six NFL seasons with three different teams. He was diagnosed with an enlarged heart before his NFL career began, and Payton said that’s not uncommon in the NFL.

It’s unclear if the Saints will argue that Fairley had some sort of undisclosed condition that could nullify the contract — or if this will just be treated as though Fairley suffered a non-football injury after he signed his contract.

Under NFL rules, the Saints won’t be required to pay Fairley’s $1 million base salary this year. But both sides will likely file grievances over whether the Saints should get back some of the signing bonus money they have already paid him or whether Fairley is still owed more of his guarantees. They will either reach an injury settlement, or an arbitrator will decide.

Football fallout. The other big disappointment here, obviously, is that the Saints just lost one of the best players on a defense that already needed a huge upgrade.
The good news is that second-year defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins plays the exact same 3-technique position — and I think the first-round pick from Louisville has a chance to emerge as one of the Saints’ best defensive players during his sophomore season. But the Saints like to do a lot of rotating at that position to keep the big bodies fresh, and they would likely have used both players together on many passing downs.

Now the Saints will count even more on second-year DT David Onyemata, a fourth-round pick out of Canada last year. Coaches have been high on Onyemata’s development this offseason, but he almost certainly won’t replicate the kind of production Fairley had last year, with a career-high 6.5 sacks and 22 quarterback hits.

I still expect New Orleans’ defense to improve substantially in 2017 with a healthy secondary and a revamped linebacker corps, because … well, it can’t get much worse. But this certainly won’t help matters.

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METAIRIE, La. — It’s hard to imagine many players who were more eager for a fresh start this spring than New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams.

Williams, 24, has played in just two games in two NFL seasons. Last year, he earned a starting job in training camp, but then he suffered a frightening concussion in Week 2 that was severe enough to land him on injured reserve.

He was knocked out on the field after taking two blows to the head on the same play — one knee to the side of the helmet and one knee to the back of the helmet. He was immobilized on a cart before being taken off the field, and he spent the night in a New York-area hospital for evaluation since the Saints were on the road playing the Giants.

Williams said he didn’t suffer any injuries beyond the concussion and estimated that he felt OK within a month. But he said he understood why the Saints and doctors decided it would be best to keep him off the field for the rest of the year.

“They explained it to me and just knowing the severity of it, [I wasn’t surprised] at all,” said Williams, who recently spoke to the media at length for the first time since the injury. “Because it was a bad concussion, and you just look at yourself with life. It was a good decision. I was definitely OK with it.”

Of course, Williams said, it was “frustrating at first” to be sidelined for the year. Especially since he had also missed his entire rookie season when he was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury in training camp.

“But it’s football, so things like that happen,” said Williams, who was drafted in the third round out of Florida State in 2015. “I was just looking forward and doing what I had to do to get back this offseason.

“Now I’m going to keep working hard, get better every day and look forward to this season.”

When asked if two years of injuries have taken a toll on him, Williams said, “No, I don’t think so. It just makes you want to play more. It just makes you more hungry.”

Williams said he hasn’t spent much time dwelling on the concussion, and it won’t change the way he plays.

He said there are ways that players can try to avoid head injuries, but he feels like his was almost a “fluke” the way it happened.

“I’m a physical guy. So things like that, that’s a part of football. So I’m gonna play football the best way I can and make sure I do what I gotta do,” Williams said. “That’s definitely behind me. That was my first concussion ever. I feel like the way I play and stuff like that, that shouldn’t happen. So I’m not thinking about that out there at all.”

Williams is also grateful that the Saints are giving him every opportunity to regain his starting job — even though they drafted cornerback Marshon Lattimore with the 11th pick in the draft and considered trading for veteran cornerbacks like Malcolm Butler and Trumaine Johnson.

Williams has been working as a starting cornerback during the first two OTA practices open to the media so far.
“I’m definitely happy they’re giving me a chance like that, but at the end of the day, you’ve gotta work for it. So every day I’m working, trying to prove myself to them and trying to get better,” said Williams, who insisted that he wasn’t bothered by the Lattimore pick.

So far, Lattimore has split time between the second- and third-string units — though that could change later in the summer as he learns his new defense and adjusts to the NFL game.

“I know what type of league this is. You got to work hard, and the best player is going to play,” Williams said.

Fellow Saints starter Delvin Breaux did a double-take when someone asked him if there was a sense that people were “counting out” P.J. Williams — at least from outside the building.

“No, he ain’t been counted out, man. No indeed, no,” Breaux said. “P out there working, man, I’m telling you, P out there working. I can’t wait to see what he’s gonna do.”