After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Joe Horn was a superhero throughout the Gulf region.
Head over to Bleacher Report to check out former Saints receiver Joe Horn’s words as told to me, Michael Tillery, regarding the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina as it happened back then. He said some things I did not know. Horn was the Saints’ face of the effort to return the Saints to New Orleans, because was as involved as anyone after the storm. He gave his time and money like few others, and says that people didn’t leave despite all the warnings to do so (there was much criticism from folk outside of the New Orleans) because it wasn’t the storm damage that devastated the region, it was the four levees breaking in the middle of the night that eventually trapped city residents. During our convo, Horn offered an apology to Roger Goodell after he was very critical of the NFL Commissioner in May. His words of NFLPA Head DeMaurice Smith are also very critcal, strong to the point, and something the NFL at-large needs to hear.
“As far as my statements criticizing Roger Goodell on his disciplinary practices, I’m going to back up and recant what I said. I’d like to apologize to him. I did that interview after being upset at all the decisions he was making with all that power. I really, really, really want to apologize to Roger Goodell. Everything I said was really stupid! At the end of the day, the one I should have gone after and criticized was DeMaurice Smith. That’s who I should have said that the players should have fired. What lawyer lets the NFL players he represents sign a CBA deal giving Roger Goodell that much damn power? So, why in the hell am I mad at Roger Goodell? Goodell knows who he is. Shit. Roger Goodell works for the owners. He doesn’t work for the players. He works for the NFL to make the league more money, and be the judge and the jury. You can’t take the whip outta his hand unless you’re DeMaurice Smith and say I’m not signing that deal. It’s simple. DeMaurice Smith should have said “Roger, you cannot suspend a player until he goes to court and the judge and the jury finds he’s either guilty or not guilty. You can’t suspend a player until you find out what’s in the report. DeMaurice Smith works for the players. He’s supposed to tell them, “No, no, no guys. We have to take the power from Roger Goodell’s hands, so let me talk to him and negotiate the power that he cannot have. Because you’re arrested, you’re not going to be suspended until he finds out what you did wrong. No, you’re going to allow the court process to go through, and once they decide what happens, that’s when I’ll decide if you’re to be suspended. Guess what? You may not be guilty.” So, it’s the other way around. I feel so stupid, ignorant and uninformed by going after Roger Goodell, when DeMaurice Smith is the reason he has so much power. I’m making a national apology to Roger Goodell, and I spoke so emotionally because I was pissed off. Thinking it over after a couple of days, I was like damn I need to do another interview. I should have known and spoken that it was DeMaurice Smith, and not Roger Goodell, that gave the league the power to treat players like slaves. To clarify, I mean white, black, Mexican – any player in the NFL. Back in the day, there were white folk in the cotton field too.” – Joe Horn
There you have it. It will be very interesting to see if Horn’s words cause ripples within the NFL Player’s Association regarding DeMaurice Smith and the rest of union leadership. Players are checking lists and makin’ ’em twice for those representing their interests like never before because corruption is a helluva drug. Last season was hellish on the NFL and its brand, so how will the league respond internally to such a public relations disaster and rebuild trust with fans externally? Check the player conduct first (ultimately it’s their responsibility to do the right thing), the sweat under DeMaurice Smith’s collar second, and lastly, the consistency, moral rationale and strength of Roger Goodell’s hand when player misconduct — perceived or otherwise — comes into question.
This should be a most compelling year for the NFL. The preseason has never generated this much evenly distributed buzz. That’s a testament to such a dramatic Super Bowl, the drastically over inflated idiocy of Deflate Gate, casual fan convos of player misconduct, CTE and general player safety, the league’s ever evolving talent, and of course the unrelenting explosion of social media.
Work stoppages across sports have given fans reason to educate themselves on the inner workings of unions, how those unions process collective bargaining agreements, league leadership in all regard, and of course, salaries and salary caps. The NFL is such a marketing juggernaut that fans clamor for everything falling under its brand, and because of that reality, it appears everyone associated with the league is and should be under scrutiny as well.