OH, WHEN THE SAINTS ...
There's a photo of Roger Goodell taped outside a Miami eatery with a stern directive to the staff: DO NOT SERVE THIS MAN.
The restaurant is co-owned by Jonathan Vilma, the linebacker suspended for the season by Goodell in the wake of the New Orleans bounty scandal.
The Saints' distain for the commissioner is surpassed only by their loyalty to their head coach. Sean Payton is also suspended for the season, but players leave a symbolic spot for him on the team bus, on the team plane and in the meeting room.
They also keep a spot for Payton in their hearts: Aaron Kromer, the Saints offensive line coach who will serve as the head coach for the first six games, said training camp was run as if the boss never left.
"There isn't a difference because we're following what Sean Payton has taught us. ... It is his program. It is the way he has done it," he told The Associated Press. "We've had a lot of success doing it his way. We think it is important that we continue to do that."
The question is whether they can duplicate Payton's record. During his six seasons, the Saints made four playoff trips — including a victory in Super Bowl XLIV.
As if New Orleans needed more incentive: This year's Super Bowl will be played at the Super Dome on Feb. 3.