It's looking more and more as though the Saints will fill their interim head coaching job from within -- and not with a big-name coach like Bill Parcells.
The Saints are operating under the impression that Parcells will stay retired and not be a candidate to replace Sean Payton, whose season-long suspension related to the bounty scandal that is roiling the Saints will begin next Monday.
Parcells could not be reached to confirm this story, but a source close to the team confirmed that Parcells is almost certain to stay retired. Of course, with the 70-year-old Parcells, you can never say never, but it's highly unlikely you'll see him on the sidelines this fall.
It was also confirmed this morning that Tony Dungy, the other retired Super Bowl coach who made sense as a Saints candidate, has not been contacted by the Saints, and would not be interested in the job if the Saints did reach out. Dungy is happily employed as an NBC "Football Night in America'' analyst, and he also wants to spend the fall watching son Eric play football. Eric Dungy is a wide receiver at Oregon, and the Dungy family attends several games on the West Coast each season.
It's not known whether the Saints ever seriously considered Dungy, but he would have filled two requirements if they went outside the coaching staff to name a coach for 2012. He would be a great candidate in the first place, and he would also fulfill the NFL's Rooney Rule, which says that when a team names a coach, it must interview at least one minority candidate for the job. Dungy is African-American.
If a team names an interim from within the staff, it does not have to interview a minority candidate.
The three prime candidates from within the Saints staff are defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and offensive line/running game coach Aaron Kromer. Spagnuolo is the only one of the three who has been a head coach before, going 10-38 in the last three seasons as coach of the Rams.
The decision on the Saints new coach will be made by owner Tom Benson and GM Mickey Loomis.
Now onto your email, which is filled with the Gregg Williams/Sean Pamphilon/Steve Gleason story:
AUDIO I. "I understand why you are so conflicted about Pamphilon and whether or not he should have used the film he acquired, originally for one purpose, for an entirely different purpose altogether. On the one hand, Pamphilon has brought about hurt and pain for Steve Gleason, because he has caused more headaches for Gleason's beloved Saints organization. But on the other hand, Pamphilon has evidence of a crime. And while it may not (who knows yet?) be a crime in a legal sense, Williams' pre-49ers game rant was absolutely a crime in the eyes of the NFL. And for someone to have that evidence and withhold it, who would that serve? Steve Gleason?
Peter, as I see it, Pamphilon was in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. If he had withheld that tape, and it came out 10 years later, he'd be vilified for covering up hard evidence of Williams' treachery. So Pamphilon did what he had to do: He did the right thing, even though it destroyed a friendship in the process. Thanks for being real, though...one thing your readers can count on is that you're honest, you're real, and your true feelings of being conflicted came through loud and clear. It's why regular guys like me relate to you and read your column every week.''-- From Jon Miller, of Currituck, N.C.
Thanks, Jon. Your sentiment mirrors many of my readers' views. This is a tough subject, obviously. But what Williams said was not a crime. In the eyes of the NFL, it's way over the line, and reasonable cause for him to be banned from coaching for a year. But I don't see his words as criminal.
AUDIO 2. "It's shameful for you to actually believe that Pamphilon is the bad guy here. Pamphilon's moral authority to out Williams is for the greater good of the sport and humanity. While Pamphilon violated Gleason's trust, he has an implied moral authority to act for the greater good of society. To your point, Gleason was not a Saints player when Williams arrived in New Orleans, so Pamphilon has to weigh morality vs. trust to reach his final conclusion. Betrayal of the bond of friendship by Pamphilon; Yes, but with the moral authority to do so.''-- From Bruce Casper, of Norfolk, Mass.
Again: This mirrors what many readers have said to me in the last 24 hours. One question: Who invents this so-called "moral authority?'' You may think it's more morally important to release the audio than it is to comply with the wishes of a close friend, without whose invitation you wouldn't have been in the room to hear what Pamphilon heard. I don't.
AUDIO 3. "I think you may be commingling ethics and morals in the Pamphilon-Gleason story. Pamphilon may have had a journalistic ethical duty to not release the audio with Gleason's consent but he felt his moral obligation trumped ethics in this case. I think that most of the public feels that way. Hypothetical question for you: If you had an off-the-record conversation with a government official about tortured detainees in 2002 or 2003, would your ethical obligation preside over any moral outrage you might have felt at the time and your impulse to print something to cease the practice?''-- From Rob, of Anchorage
If I could prove it, using a tip from the off-the-record conversation, yes. With only the off-the-record conversation as proof, no.
AUDIO 4. "I've been an avid MMQB reader for years and strongly believe you're the best writer doing the NFL. In regards to your comments regarding Gleason and Pamphilon, here's my take: Yes, there wasn't much more in regards to punishment from the NFL regarding Williams that the released audio could have added to. But my issue is that you are starting to see people (mostly in New Orleans) defending and supporting some of the guilty party. The "Free Sean Payton" shirts being worn are an example of people who just don't get it. What the audio track did was make this a very real situation. It's one thing to have Michael Silver and other sportswriters like yourself report it but it becomes less clinical when you actually hear Williams telling his defense to go out and potentially end someone's career.''-- From David, of Stonehman, Mass.
I understand. And I agree that the Williams speech is powerful confirmation that something bad was going on in New Orleans. But it all comes down to this: Pamphilon was in the room as Gleason's guest, would never been in the room without being with Gleason. Gleason said he didn't want Pamphilon to use the tape, he used it, and really, other than affecting public opinion, how much did it change the case or the discipline associated with the case? It didn't.
AUDIO 5. "I routinely read MMQB every Monday, particularly during the season, and usually find it an enjoyable experience. What I didn't enjoy this week, however, is the hypocrisy of Steve Gleason. That may be a strong word, but here's why I say it. Gleason has been the current poster boy for making the NFL safer for it's players and their long-term health, and while his bout with ALS cannot be entirely attributed to violence in the pro game, there is certainly a link. For him to suggest that Pamphilon not release the tape because the Saints allowed him to be in the room out of honor/respect/sympathy to his situation flies in the face of everything he's been touting. It's great that the Saints are putting up a statue of Gleason, sending him to games, etc., but doesn't it almost start to feel nefarious in light of the revelations of bountygate and lying to the league about it (i.e. buying him out to keep quiet)? That's probably the conspiracy theorist in me, but I think if Gleason is going to be the poster boy for a safer NFL, he had a responsibility to make his knowledge public.''-- From Ray Youssef, of Oaks, Pa.
Gleason is not asking to be the poster boy of a safer NFL. He doesn't have a responsibility to make the speech public. And as for what he has "been touting,'' as you say, all he has been pushing is for ALS patients to live fuller, more active lives. I think everyone gets in trouble here when they start to talk about what Gleason has done, is doing or should do. All he wants to do with his time left on earth is work for ALS patients around the world, and leave his family a positive legacy.
AUDIO 6. "Thank you for your column and your honest, spot-on perspective on the state of the NFL. What value did the release of information add to the overall discussion? None. The gun was already smoking. I think the question Mr. Pamphilon needs to ask himself is, 'Was it really worth it?' Mr. Pamphilon acted selfishly, should be treated with indifference, at best and, for lack of better words, was just simply piling on.''-- From Herman L. Reed of St. Louis
One thing I will say about Pamphilon is that I truly believe he did this because he did what he thought was right -- not to say, "Hey, look at me!'' What's right is something difficult to comprehend for different people. I believe Pamphilon has a good heart. I just disagree with how he handled this thing.
GREGG WILLIAMS' ROLE. "Yesterday you mentioned how Roger Goodell would help Gregg Williams find a path back to the NFL and likened any possible redemption to that of Michael Vick saying 'he'll become a spokesman with high schools and colleges for what surely will be the league's anti-bounty and anti-violence push.' Do you honestly believe football fans would buy into that? How can people be expected to believe that a coach of over 50 years of age, who has been a defensive leader for more than 20 years, can suddenly change his beliefs and practices?''-- From Adam Redmond, of Dublin, Ireland
Michael Vick did. Or at least it appears he did. Why can't Williams?
I TOOK A CHEAP SHOT AT PETRINO. "I enjoy your column but with all due respect your shot at Bobby Petrino was unprofessional and hypocritical. You refer to Petrino's resignation in Week 14 as 'the middle of the season' and fail to reference NFL teams that fire Head Coaches - leaving the staff & players 'in a lurch' as you say - during the season, such as Todd Haley, Josh Del Rio, Tony Sparano last year. You call a coach who leaves early to pursue a career outside the NFL 'immature' yet over the past 3 seasons a third of NFL teams fired their Head Coach during the season despite the fact that those coaches had, as you say, 'a valid contract.' If Petrino is a jerk then fine, call him out for that, but don't paint Atlanta as some innocent organization that was swindled by one of its employees. The NFL is ruthless and that's a two-way street. A good journalist would acknowledge that and not use the circumstances of Petrino's exit as an example of his poor moral fiber. It was a lazy way of taking a shot at someone it's obvious you just don't like.''-- From MP, of Jacksonville
I can't believe someone actually wrote in to defend Bobby Petrino. What a world we live in. Okay. Coaches in all sports get fired all the time -- and get paid for the remainder of their contracts. That's the case with the coaches you mentioned. Resigning with games left in the season (unless the "resignation'' is forced, which Petrino's was not) to take another job is an act of betrayal. If you don't think it's an example of poor moral fiber, I'd suggest reading another football writer. You're not winning with me on that one.